Natural forests and human-planted protective forest belts (shelterbelts) on both sides of railways are designed to protect against drifting snow and blowing sands, mudflows, avalanches and landslides, as well as to reduce noise, to perform sanitary and aesthetic functions, and secure moving traffic from adverse aerodynamic loads.
The protection of the railways, primarily from snow drifting, is relevant upon the commencement of train traffic on railroad lines. Forest protective belts are some of the cheapest, powerful and long-lasting means of snow drift prevention.
The aim of the study is to assess the impact of shelterbelts on the distribution of snow deposits.
Materials and Methods
To investigate the snow-retaining effects of protective plantings along traffic arteries, a study was carried out on sample plots located on the line of the Lyubotin-Vorozhba railway, within the Kharkiv region.
The objects of the study were maple-oak protective forest belt near “Gazove” station (sample plot 1) and oak-ash protective forest belt near “204 km” station (sample plot 2), as well as fields bordering on these shelterbelts. The experimental plots of rectangular shape were laid out across the entire width of the forest belt, 100 m length along the railroad track.
Measurements of snow cover distribution and determination of density and water equivalence of the snow cover were carried out using the method of forest meteorological observations, namely the manner of the snow cover deposits and snow survey. The height of the snow cover was measured by a wooden snow survey stake; the number of replications was ten at each of the observation points. The distance between the points of snow cover measurement was 10 m.
Results and Conclusions
The influence of forest shelterbelts of different ages on snow deposits and distribution of snow cover were investigated on sample plots 1 and 2. The benefits of protective forest belts planted along railways were described. Belts along the railways not only prevent the snow accumulation on railroad tracks but also perform a number of useful functions. The snow pattern (the snow trail length and the snow-cover height) was determined and the density and water equivalence of snow cover were calculated in the shelterbelts and adjacent fields.
The maximum snow cover height reached 19 cm in the maple-oak shelterbelt (sample plot 1), and it was 22 cm in the oak-ash shelterbelt (sample plot 2); the water equivalence of the snow cover was 32 mm and 36 mm, respectively. In oak-ash shelterbelt, the snow cover is 3 cm higher and the water equivalence of the snow cover is 4 mm larger than those in the maple-oak shelterbelt. The denser design of the forest belt provides the more snow retention in it, and, consequently, less snow falls into the railroad precinct area and infrastructure. An intensively removal of trees during tending felling is not recommended at the maple-oak forest belt, as this will reduce the density of the protective planting and, therefore, will result in deterioration of its protective properties: the snow cover height in the shelterbelt along railways will reach the height of the snow cover in the open field.
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