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Canopy structure and topography effects on snow distribution at a catchment scale: Application of multivariate approaches

Jenicek, Michal, Pevna, Hana, Matejka, Ondrej
Vodohospodársky časopis 2018 v.66 no.1 pp. 43-54
air temperature, bark beetles, canopy, cluster analysis, defoliation, forests, heat sums, leaf area index, light intensity, melting, multivariate analysis, photographs, principal component analysis, runoff, snow, snowmelt, snowpack, solar radiation, topography, uncertainty, watersheds, winter
The knowledge of snowpack distribution at a catchment scale is important to predict the snowmelt runoff. The objective of this study is to select and quantify the most important factors governing the snowpack distribution, with special interest in the role of different canopy structure. We applied a simple distributed sampling design with measurement of snow depth and snow water equivalent (SWE) at a catchment scale. We selected eleven predictors related to character of specific localities (such as elevation, slope orientation and leaf area index) and to winter meteorological conditions (such as irradiance, sum of positive air temperature and sum of new snow depth). The forest canopy structure was described using parameters calculated from hemispherical photographs. A degree-day approach was used to calculate melt factors. Principal component analysis, cluster analysis and Spearman rank correlation were applied to reduce the number of predictors and to analyze measured data. The SWE in forest sites was by 40% lower than in open areas, but this value depended on the canopy structure. The snow ablation in large openings was on average almost two times faster compared to forest sites. The snow ablation in the forest was by 18% faster after forest defoliation (due to the bark beetle). The results from multivariate analyses showed that the leaf area index was a better predictor to explain the SWE distribution during accumulation period, while irradiance was better predictor during snowmelt period. Despite some uncertainty, parameters derived from hemispherical photographs may replace measured incoming solar radiation if this meteorological variable is not available.