Radiation Climatology of forest Gaps: Development of a Mechanistic Model to Enhance Hydrologic Flows and Reduce Wildland Fire Hazards
Forest watershed managers need quantitative, process science-based tools to optimize multi-objective management strategies to simultaneously reduce fire hazard risk, maintain water quality, increase annual hydrologic yield, delay the timing of snowmelt runoff, and generate forest products based revenue,. Preliminary theoretical work suggests that the net incoming radiation in small forest gaps may be less than in closed canopy forests, hence melt rates may be reduced relative to denser canopies. This project will develop a numerical model to quantify the net snowcover radiative regime in small canopy gaps that would be typical of thinning and fuel break treatments. The model will be developed and assessed using detailed field measurements of solar and thermal radiation across a number of gap-forest transects. Extensive model runs will be
completed to assess the full range of radiative regime alterations in complex, vegetated terrain. Project outcomes will include publications and presentations at both research and management oriented venues and a simple guidance document to aid forest management decisions.