SEATTLE -- University of Washington scientists have found that snow in the Cascade passes melts more quickly under trees than it does in the open.

The team used thermal imaging and data storage devices to measure temperature and snowmelt rates in both areas and found that heat generated from trees outweighs the affects of sunshine.

The information could be very important in guiding Seattle Public Utilities and other municipal water suppliers in their management of forests in their watersheds. It could also help timber companies plan best for replanting after harvests.

The researchers said the trees absorb heat during the day and transfer it to the surrounding snow and that is why so called tree wells form at the base of trees. The ground under open snow stays colder longer so there is less transfer of heat to the snow.

Read more on the

University of Washington snow melt study.

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