Spring Snowmelt (spring + snowmelt)

Distribution by Scientific Domains

Selected Abstracts

Importance of Unsaturated Zone Flow for Simulating Recharge in a Humid Climate

GROUND WATER, Issue 4 2008
Randall J. Hunt
Transient recharge to the water table is often not well understood or quantified. Two approaches for simulating transient recharge in a ground water flow model were investigated using the Trout Lake watershed in north-central Wisconsin: (1) a traditional approach of adding recharge directly to the water table and (2) routing the same volume of water through an unsaturated zone column to the water table. Areas with thin (less than 1 m) unsaturated zones showed little difference in timing of recharge between the two approaches; when water was routed through the unsaturated zone, however, less recharge was delivered to the water table and more discharge occurred to the surface because recharge direction and magnitude changed when the water table rose to the land surface. Areas with a thick (15 to 26 m) unsaturated zone were characterized by multimonth lags between infiltration and recharge, and, in some cases, wetting fronts from precipitation events during the fall overtook and mixed with infiltration from the previous spring snowmelt. Thus, in thicker unsaturated zones, the volume of water infiltrated was properly simulated using the traditional approach, but the timing was different from simulations that included unsaturated zone flow. Routing of rejected recharge and ground water discharge at land surface to surface water features also provided a better simulation of the observed flow regime in a stream at the basin outlet. These results demonstrate that consideration of flow through the unsaturated zone may be important when simulating transient ground water flow in humid climates with shallow water tables. [source]

Implications of global climate change for snowmelt hydrology in the twenty-first century

Jennifer C. Adam
Abstract For most of the global land area poleward of about 40 latitude, snow plays an important role in the water cycle. The (seasonal) timing of runoff in these areas is especially sensitive to projected losses of snowpack associated with warming trends, whereas projected (annual) runoff volume changes are primarily associated with precipitation changes, and to a lesser extent, with changes in evapotranspiration (ET). Regional studies in the USA (and especially the western USA) suggest that hydrologic adjustments to a warming climate have been ongoing since the mid-twentieth century. We extend the insights extracted from the western USA to the global scale using a physically based hydrologic model to assess the effects of systematic changes in precipitation and temperature on snow-affected portions of the global land area as projected by a suite of global climate models. While annual (and in some cases seasonal) changes in precipitation are a key driver of projected changes in annual runoff, we find, as in the western USA, that projected warming produces strong decreases in winter snow accumulation and spring snowmelt over much of the affected area regardless of precipitation change. Decreased snowpack produces decreases in warm-season runoff in many mid- to high-latitude areas where precipitation changes are either moderately positive or negative in the future projections. Exceptions, however, occur in some high-latitude areas, particular in Eurasia, where changes in projected precipitation are large enough to result in increased, rather than decreased, snow accumulation. Overall, projected changes in snowpack and the timing of snowmelt-derived runoff are largest near the boundaries of the areas that currently experience substantial snowfall, and at least qualitatively, they mirror the character of observed changes in the western USA. Copyright 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

The role of waves in ice-jam flooding of the Peace-Athabasca Delta

Spyros Beltaos
Abstract Since the late 1960s, a paucity of ice-jam flooding in the lower Peace River has resulted in prolonged dry periods and considerable reduction in the area covered by lakes and ponds that provide habitat for aquatic life in the Peace-Athabasca Delta (PAD) region. To identify the causes of this trend, and to develop mitigation or adaptation strategies under present and future climatic conditions, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms that lead to breakup of the ice cover and jamming within the delta reach of Peace River. Because the lower Peace is extremely flat, the long-period waves caused by spring snowmelt are not generally capable of dislodging the winter ice cover, even under conditions of very high flow. The ice cover decays in place and rubble generation, an essential condition for ice jamming, does not occur. However, major jams do, on occasion, form in the middle section of the river and make their way to the delta via repeated releases and stalls. Each release generates a steep wave which can greatly amplify the hydrodynamic forces that are applied on the ice cover and bring about its dislodgment. This is quantified for the lower Peace River by applying recently developed methodology to local hydrometric data. Detailed in situ observations in the spring of 2003, and additional data from 1997 and 2002, fully corroborate this conclusion. Implications to other flat rivers of northern Canada are discussed. Copyright 2007 Crown in the right of Canada. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]

Characteristics of soil moisture in permafrost observed in East Siberian taiga with stable isotopes of water

A. Sugimoto
Abstract Soil moisture and its isotopic composition were observed at Spasskaya Pad experimental forest near Yakutsk, Russia, during summer in 1998, 1999, and 2000. The amount of soil water (plus ice) was estimated from volumetric soil water content obtained with time domain reflectometry. Soil moisture and its ,18O showed large interannual variation depending on the amount of summer rainfall. The soil water ,18O decreased with soil moisture during a dry summer (1998), indicating that ice meltwater from a deeper soil layer was transported upward. On the other hand, during a wet summer (1999), the ,18O of soil water increased due to percolation of summer rain with high ,18O values. Infiltration after spring snowmelt can be traced down to 15 cm by the increase in the amount of soil water and decrease in the ,18O because of the low ,18O of deposited snow. About half of the snow water equivalent (about 50 mm) recharged the surface soil. The pulse of the snow meltwater was, however, less important than the amount of summer rainfall for intra-annual variation of soil moisture. Excess water at the time just before soil freezing, which is controlled by the amount of summer rainfall, was stored as ice during winter. This water storage stabilizes the rate of evapotranspiration. Soil water stored in the upper part of the active layer (surface to about 120 cm) can be a water source for transpiration in the following summer. On the other hand, once water was stored in the lower part of the active layer (deeper than about 120 cm), it would not be used by plants in the following summer, because the lower part of the active layer thaws in late summer after the plant growing season is over. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]


Paul E. Todhunter
ABSTRACT: The flood hydroclimatology of the Grand Forks flood of April 1997, the most costly flood on a per capita basis for a major metropolitan area in United States history, is analyzed in terms of the natural processes that control spring snowmelt flooding in the region. The geomorphological characteristics of the basin are reviewed, and an integrated assessment of the hydroclimatological conditions during the winter of 1996 to 1997 is presented to gain a real-world understanding of the physical basis of this catastrophic flood event. The Grand Forks flood resulted from the principal flood-producing factors occurring at either historic or extreme levels, or at levels conducive to severe flooding. Above normal fall precipitation increased the fall soil moisture storage and reduced the spring soil moisture storage potential. A concrete frost layer developed that effectively reduced the soil infiltration capacity to zero. Record snowfall totals and snow cover depths occurred across the basin because of the unusual persistence of a blocking high circulation pattern throughout the winter. A severe, late spring blizzard delayed the snowmelt season and replenished the snow cover to record levels for early April. This blizzard was followed by a sudden transition to an extreme late season thaw due to the abrupt breakdown of the blocking circulation pattern. The presence of river ice contributed to backwater effects and affected the timing of tributary inflows to the main stem of the Red River. Only the absence of spring rains prevented an even more catastrophic flood disaster from taking place. This paper contributes to our understanding of the flood hydroclimatology of catastrophic flood events in an unusual flood hazard region that possesses relatively flat terrain, a north-flowing river, and an annual peak discharge time series dominated by spring snowmelt floods. [source]

The fluvial morphodynamics of two small permafrost drainage basins, Richardson Mountains, Northwestern Canada

Dr Kuno Priesnitz
Abstract Based on hydrological fieldwork in the tundra of northwestern Canada during the springs of 1986, 1990, 1992, and 1994 and the summers of 1998, 1999, and 2000 the paper deals with the fluvial processes induced by spring snowmelt and by summer rainfall in two small stream valleys. At the end of winter the floors of these flat-bottomed valleys are covered by icings (aufeis) over most of their length. The biggest quantity of meltwater runoff passes in an ice channel on top of the icing, with flow velocities up to 4.8 m/s. The main solid-sediment transport takes place through the short runoff interval, when the stream channel has entrenched the aufeis in some places. The calculated suspended load transport during snowmelt flood varied from 62,313 t/km2 in different years. In summer, suspended-sediment transport varies between 0.2,1.4 t/km2. There are no data about the frequency of exceptionally strong precipitation events, similar to those that occurred during the 1999 summer in the Douglas Creek basin that led to a suspended load transport of 153 t/km2 and a bedload transport of 444 t/km2 in about 12 days. The average annual suspended-sediment yield for Andy Creek is 71 t/km2/yr, and 328 t/km2/yr for Douglas Creek. The average annual solutes yield for Andy Creek is 19 t/km2/yr, and 52 t/km2/yr for Douglas Creek. If one includes the hardly-recordable bedload transport, the total equivalent surface lowering rate by fluvial solids transport is about 350 mm/1000yr for the Andy Creek basin and 850 mm/1000yr for the Douglas Creek basin. Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. [source]