Solar Radiation Transfer Through a Subarctic Shrub Canopy

D. Bewley, J. W. Pomeroy, R. L. H. Essery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Much of the low Arctic is covered with shrubs that are partially buried by snow in winter and become exposed during melt. This study presents measurements and modeling of shortwave radiation reflection and extinction by a deciduous shrub canopy emerging from a melting snowcover in the mountains of the Yukon Territory, Canada. Shrubs shade most of the snow surface at low solar elevation angles, so only a fraction of the incoming radiation reaches the surface, but there is greater direct shortwave transmission to the surface in gaps between shrubs for higher solar elevations. A simple model is developed to incorporate the changing contributions of sun-lit gaps, shaded gaps, and shrubs to the landscape-averaged (areal) transmission and reflection of shortwave radiation. The areal transmissivity and albedo in this model are lower than in a two-stream approximation that neglects gap shading. A simple shadow parameterization is proposed for calculating shrub tundra snowmelt rates and surface energy balances in hydrological and land-surface models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-374
Number of pages10
JournalArctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2007

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