Impact of mountain pine beetle outbreaks on forest albedo and radiative forcing, as derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, Rocky Mountains, USA
Mountain pine beetle (Dendroctonus ponderosae) outbreaks in North America are widespread and have potentially large-scale impacts on albedo and associated radiative forcing. Mountain pine beetle outbreaks in Colorado and southern Wyoming have resulted in persistent and significant increases in both winter albedo (change peaked 10 years post outbreak at 0.06 ± 0.01 and 0.05 ± 0.01, in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta) and ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) stands, respectively) and spring albedo (change peaked 10 years post outbreak at 0.06 ± 0.01 and 0.04 ± 0.01, in lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine stands, respectively). Instantaneous top-of-atmosphere radiative forcing peaked for both lodgepole pine and ponderosa pine stands in winter at 10 years post outbreak at -1.7 ± 0.2 W m-2 and -1.4 ± 0.2 W m-2, respectively. The persistent increase in albedo with time since mountain pine beetle disturbance combined with the continued progression of the attack across the landscape from 1994-2011 resulted in an exponential increase in winter and annual radiative cooling (MW) over time. In 2011 the rate of radiative forcing within the study area reached -982.7 ± 139.0 MW, -269.8 ± 38.2 MW, -31.1 ± 4.4 MW, and -147.8 ± 20.9 MW in winter, spring, summer, and fall, respectively. An increase in radiative cooling has the potential to decrease sensible and/or latent heat flux by reducing available energy. Such changes could affect current mountain pine beetle outbreaks which are influenced by climatic conditions. Key Points Beetle outbreaks result in a significant increase in winter and spring albedos Beetle-driven albedo consequences are persistent for at least two decades Beetle outbreaks cause an exponential increase in radiative cooling over time ©2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Vanderhoof, M.; Williams, C. A.; Ghimire, B.; and Rogan, J., "Impact of mountain pine beetle outbreaks on forest albedo and radiative forcing, as derived from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, Rocky Mountains, USA" (2013). Geography. 657.