Agroforestry Systems

, Volume 88, Issue 5, pp 803–814 | Cite as

Living snow fences show potential for large storage capacity and reduced drift length shortly after planting

Article

Abstract

Living snow fences are windbreaks designed to mitigate blowing snow problems by trapping snow in drifts before it reaches a road. Research studies on living snow fences are limited and extension publications consequently lack precise design protocols. This study investigated 18 sites in New York State planted with living snow fences of various vegetation types and ages ranging from 1 to 11 years after planting. Key plant growth variables of fence height and optical porosity were measured along with distance upwind and downwind. This data was combined with site specific snowfall estimates and established equations to calculate the snow storage capacity of each fence, average annual snow transport (blowing snow) at each site, and length of the downwind drift. Capacity/transport ratio of each fence/site was identified as a key variable. Height increased linearly over time and porosity decreased. Three years after planting, height and porosity was sufficient so that capacity/transport ratios were greater than 1:1, indicating substantial snow trapping potential much sooner than commonly reported. Four to eleven years after planting, capacity/transport ratios were between 3:1 and 110:1. Capacity/transport ratios of 15:1 or greater occurred as early as 5 years after planting and were correlated with estimated drift lengths <10 m. The influence of capacity/transport ratio on drift length is not accounted for in current publications and setback recommendations range from 30 to 180 m. The results of this study can improve the understanding, design and function of living snow fences.

Keywords

Windbreaks Shelterbelts Trees Shrub willow Salix Transportation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forest and Natural Resource Management, College of Environmental Science and ForestryState University of New YorkSyracuseUSA

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