Snow Distribution Patterns at Land Cover Boundaries in Tompkins County, NY
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Since humans first began clearing land for agriculture, rural landscapes have become a complex mosaic of forests and fields. During winter, the borders between these two land use types become especially interesting as winds moving across fields entrain fallen snow and may redistribute it to the forest edge. Since snow depth can have serious implications for soil conditions and biogeochemical processes, I proposed to evaluate snow distribution at field- forest boundaries in Tompkins County, NY through a combination of techniques that address the degree of snow redistribution at a variety of scales. Continuous measures using time-lapse photographs taken along a field border from January to March 2007 were used to assess localized redistribution over a snow period. These observations revealed snow accumulation at the field-forest border particularly in areas where the grass in the field had been mowed. Manual measurements of snow depth across several field- forest borders throughout the county were used to estimate how much snow was redistributed to borders, on average, in the county. These data demonstrated that there are a number of factors affecting the extent of snow redistribution from fields to forest borders, but the phenomenon definitely exists. A rough extrapolation of our results suggests that 1.9% of Tompkins County?s snow accumulates at these boundaries (which comprise 1.3% of the county?s area). With the increasing fragmentation of landscapes, it is integral to understand physical processes such as snow drifting at forest edges so that we can then better comprehend the ecological implications of such occurrences.
dissertation or thesis