Estimating sublimation of intercepted and sub-canopy snow using eddy covariance systems

Noah P. Molotch, Peter D. Blanken, Mark W. Williams, Andrew A. Turnipseed, Russell K. Monson, Steven A. Margulis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Scopus citations


Direct measurements of winter water loss due to sublimation were made in a sub-alpine forest in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Above-and below-canopy eddy covariance systems indicated substantial losses of winter-season snow accumulation in the form of snowpack (0.41 mm d-1) and intercepted snow (0.71 mm d-1) sublimation. The partitioning between these over and under story components of water loss was highly dependent on atmospheric conditions and near-surface conditions at and below the snow/atmosphere interface. High above-canopy sensible heat fluxes lead to strong temperature gradients between vegetation and the snow-surface, driving substantial specific humidity gradients at the snow surface and high sublimation rates. Intercepted snowfall resulted in rapid response of above-canopy latent heat fluxes, high within-canopy sublimation rates (maximum = 3.7 mm d-1), and diminished sub-canopy snowpack sublimation. These results indicate that sublimation losses from the sub-canopy snowpack are strongly dependent on the partitioning of sensible and latent heat fluxes in the canopy. This compels comprehensive studies of snow sublimation in forested regions that integrate sub-canopy and over-story processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1567-1575
Number of pages9
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2007


  • Eddy covariance
  • Rocky mountains
  • Snow interception
  • Sublimation
  • Vegetation canopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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