The impact of coniferous forest temperature on incoming longwave radiation to melting snow

John W. Pomeroy, Danny Marks, Tim Link, Chad Ellis, Janet Hazel Hardy, Aled Prys Rowlands, Raoul Granger

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136 Citations (SciVal)


Measurements were conducted in coniferous forests of differing density, insolation and latitude to test whether air temperatures are suitable surrogates for canopy temperature in estimating sub-canopy longwave irradiance to snow. Air temperature generally was a good representation of canopy radiative temperature under conditions of low insolation. However during high insolation, needle and branch temperatures were well estimated by air temperature only in relatively dense canopies and exceeded air temperatures elsewhere. Tree trunks exceeded air temperatures in all canopies during high insolation, with the relatively hottest trunks associated with direct interception of sunlight, sparse canopy cover and dead trees. The exitance of longwave radiation from these relatively warm canopies exceeded that calculated assuming canopy temperature was equal to air temperature. This enhancement was strongly related to the extinction of shortwave radiation by the canopy. Estimates of sub-canopy Ion-wave irradiance using either two-energy source or two thermal regime approaches to evaluate the contribution of canopy longwave exitance performed better than did estimates that used only air temperature and sky view. However, there was little evidence that such corrections are necessary under cloudy or low solar insolation conditions. The longwave enhancement effect due to shortwave extinction was important to sub-canopy longwave irradiance to snow during clear, sunlit conditions. Longwave enhancement increased with increasing solar elevation angle and decreasing air temperature. Its relative importance to longwave irradiance to snow was insensitive to canopy density. As errors from ignoring enhanced longwave contributions from the canopy accumulate over the winter season, it is important for snow energy balance computations to include the enhancement in order to better calculate snow internal energy and therefore the timing and magnitude of snowmelt and sublimation. Copyrigght (C) 2009 John Wiley & Soils, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2513-2525
Number of pages13
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2011


  • snowmelt
  • longwave radiation
  • forest temperature
  • shortwave radiation
  • transmissivity
  • pine forest
  • rocky mountains
  • CLPX


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