Wildfire Aftermath
6:43 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Forest Fires Make Snowpack Melt Faster

Charred forests left behind by wildfires make the mountain snowpack melt faster, according to a new study.Western rivers depend on the snowpack.

Study author, OSU doctoral student Kelly Gleason, says they found more snow fell in burned forests than in green ones. But the snow melted off twice as fast in burned forests, and was gone 23 days earlier. The reason was the black bits sloughing off the charred trees onto the snow intensified the heat from the sun.

Eighty percent of forest fires are in the snow zone.

The study says logic suggests more wildfires associated with climate change will contribute to earlier snowmelt already seen with rising temperatures.