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Title: Deciduous trees are a large and overlooked sink for snowmelt water in the boreal forest

Abstract

The terrestrial water cycle contains large uncertainties that impact our understanding of water budgets and climate dynamics. Water storage is a key uncertainty in the boreal water budget, with tree water storage often ignored. The goal of this study is to quantify tree water content during the snowmelt and growing season periods for Alaskan and western Canadian boreal forests. Deciduous trees reached saturation between snowmelt and leaf-out, taking up 21–25% of the available snowmelt water, while coniferous trees removed <1%. We found that deciduous trees removed 17.8–20.9 billion m 3 of snowmelt water, which is equivalent to 8.7–10.2% of the Yukon River’s annual discharge. Deciduous trees transpired 2–12% (0.4–2.2 billion m 3) of the absorbed snowmelt water immediately after leaf-out, increasing favorable conditions for atmospheric convection, and an additional 10–30% (2.0–5.2 billion m 3) between leaf-out and mid-summer. By 2100, boreal deciduous tree area is expected to increase by 1–15%, potentially resulting in an additional 0.3–3 billion m 3 of snowmelt water removed from the soil per year. Furthermore, this study is the first to show that deciduous tree water uptake of snowmelt water represents a large but overlooked aspect of the water balance in boreal watersheds.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [2];  [2];  [3]
  1. U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, AK (United States); Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States)
  2. Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States)
  3. NOAA National Weather Service, Fairbanks, AK (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) (SC-21); National Science Foundation (NSF); USGS
OSTI Identifier:
1313012
Grant/Contract Number:  
SC0006913; 1114457; G10AC00588
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; Environmental sciences; Ecosystem ecology; Boreal ecology

Citation Formats

Young-Robertson, Jessica M., Bolton, W. Robert, Bhatt, Uma S., Cristobal, Jordi, and Thoman, Richard. Deciduous trees are a large and overlooked sink for snowmelt water in the boreal forest. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1038/srep29504.
Young-Robertson, Jessica M., Bolton, W. Robert, Bhatt, Uma S., Cristobal, Jordi, & Thoman, Richard. Deciduous trees are a large and overlooked sink for snowmelt water in the boreal forest. United States. doi:10.1038/srep29504.
Young-Robertson, Jessica M., Bolton, W. Robert, Bhatt, Uma S., Cristobal, Jordi, and Thoman, Richard. Tue . "Deciduous trees are a large and overlooked sink for snowmelt water in the boreal forest". United States. doi:10.1038/srep29504. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1313012.
@article{osti_1313012,
title = {Deciduous trees are a large and overlooked sink for snowmelt water in the boreal forest},
author = {Young-Robertson, Jessica M. and Bolton, W. Robert and Bhatt, Uma S. and Cristobal, Jordi and Thoman, Richard},
abstractNote = {The terrestrial water cycle contains large uncertainties that impact our understanding of water budgets and climate dynamics. Water storage is a key uncertainty in the boreal water budget, with tree water storage often ignored. The goal of this study is to quantify tree water content during the snowmelt and growing season periods for Alaskan and western Canadian boreal forests. Deciduous trees reached saturation between snowmelt and leaf-out, taking up 21–25% of the available snowmelt water, while coniferous trees removed <1%. We found that deciduous trees removed 17.8–20.9 billion m3 of snowmelt water, which is equivalent to 8.7–10.2% of the Yukon River’s annual discharge. Deciduous trees transpired 2–12% (0.4–2.2 billion m3) of the absorbed snowmelt water immediately after leaf-out, increasing favorable conditions for atmospheric convection, and an additional 10–30% (2.0–5.2 billion m3) between leaf-out and mid-summer. By 2100, boreal deciduous tree area is expected to increase by 1–15%, potentially resulting in an additional 0.3–3 billion m3 of snowmelt water removed from the soil per year. Furthermore, this study is the first to show that deciduous tree water uptake of snowmelt water represents a large but overlooked aspect of the water balance in boreal watersheds.},
doi = {10.1038/srep29504},
journal = {Scientific Reports},
number = ,
volume = 6,
place = {United States},
year = {2016},
month = {7}
}

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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Anticipated changes to the snow season in Alaska: Elevation dependency, timing and extremes
    journal, June 2019

    • Lader, Rick; Walsh, John E.; Bhatt, Uma S.
    • International Journal of Climatology
    • DOI: 10.1002/joc.6201