Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Geoscience



Major Advisor

Nancy F. Glenn, Ph.D.


James P. McNamara, Ph.D.


Hans-Peter Marshall, Ph.D.


In nonpolar, cold climate zones, snow accounts for 17% of the total terrestrial water storage. Estimating the amount of water stored in a snowpack, the snow water equivalent (SWE), and its spatial distribution is crucial to providing water managers with parameters to predict runoff timing, duration and amount. Reservoir management, hydropower and flood forecasting depend on SWE estimates. While landscape features such as aspect and slope are dominant controls on radiative energy in non-forested areas, forest cover can shift the energy balance composition from turbulent exchange in exposed, windy sites to primarily radiative inputs in the subcanopy. Additionally, forest cover moderates wind speed, and hence snow redistribution, and intercepts snow during storm events. Shading from forest cover reduces the effect of solar radiation. Forests cover approximately half of the snow-covered landmasses on Earth during peak snow extent, therefore accounting for them in snow mass and energy balance models is critical. Classifying forest cover into structural characteristics that correlate to snow accumulation and melt processes can inform snow interception and melt models, and thus estimates of SWE. In this study, we use terrestrial laser scanning (TLS) data from the 2016/2017 NASA SnowEx field campaign in Grand Mesa, CO, to assess the effect of forest canopy on the spatial distribution of snow depth during the accumulation period, prior to significant melt.



Available for download on Saturday, December 19, 2020

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