92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Thursday, 26 January 2012
The Relationship Between Climate and the Mountain Pine Beetle in Colorado
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Sarah Tessendorf, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and E. Robitschek, J. Mackaro, and D. Gochis

The mountain pine beetle has recently expanded its area of devastation across the mountain pine forests in Colorado. This expansion in many mountainous pine forests has been attributed to a changing climate. While the effects of forest landscape changes from tree clearing or forest fires have been fairly well studied given the widespread nature of those types of forest clearing, the effects of tree death from the pine beetles is less understood. This project uses GLOBE and Global Historical Climate Network temperature data to first study how minimum temperature trends have changed over time , which is one factor that may allow the pine beetle population to flourish. The second focus of the project is to study one of the potential impacts of the beetle kill on climate, by analyzing solar radiation measurements within healthy tree stands and beetle-affected tree stands to compare the effects of pine needle loss on the amount of solar radiation that makes it through the tree canopy to the ground. A change in solar radiation transmittance through the canopy can have effects on the snowpack accumulation (or ablation), surface sensible and latent heat fluxes, and other energy and water balance parameters.

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