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Noon seminar - Hydrologic response of headwater catchments to forest disturbance in the Rocky Mts

Monday, April 01, 2013, 12:00PM - 1:00PM


Adrian Harpold

INSTAAR postdoctoral scholar


ARC 620

3100 Marine St., Boulder

Abstract: The Western U.S. is reliant on the melt of seasonal snowpacks in headwater catchments for critical water resources and ecological services.  Rocky Mountain headwater catchments are also experiencing rapid changes in winter climate and more severe forest disturbance.  In this presentation, several research projects explore how changes in forest structure from disturbance will alter the partitioning of snowmelt into evapotranspiration, storage, groundwater recharge, and streamflow.  Intensive field observations in Wyoming showed that peak snowpacks did not increase following severe MPB-caused tree mortality, despite reduced canopy interception in disturbed forests.  Similar compensating snowpack vapor losses were also inferred following a severe forest fire in New Mexico, which resulted in smaller peak snowpacks in disturbed areas relative to healthy forests.  Isotopic and hydrometric techniques showed that vapor losses from snowpacks and soils have the potential to impact runoff and streamflow following MPB-caused tree mortality in Wyoming.  Predicting the hydrologic response of these catchments to forest disturbance requires better representations of snow-vegetation interactions in land surface models.  The presentation concludes by exploring improvements to snow-vegetation modeling efforts that leverage novel field measurements being collected across the Western U.S.

Bio: Adrian Harpold is a National Science Foundation EAR Postdoctoral Fellow at the INSTAAR and the NCAR in Boulder, Colorado.  He was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Hydrology and Water Resources Department at the University of Arizona.  He received his PhD from Cornell University in Biological and Environmental Engineering.  His BS and MS were from Virginia Tech in Biological Systems Engineering.  His interests in catchment hydrology focus on understanding ‘how water gets to the stream’ in montane, forested catchments.


Free and open to the public