Midwinter melts in the Canadian prairies: energy balance and hydrological effects

Pavlovskii, Igor; Hayashi, Masaki; Itenfisu, Daniel

Snowpack accumulation and depletion are important elements of the hydrological cycle in the Canadian prairies. The surface runoff generated during snowmelt is transformed into streamflow or fills numerous depressions driving the focussed recharge of groundwater in this dry setting. The snowpack in the prairies can undergo several cycles of accumulation and depletion in a winter. The timing of the melt affects the mechanisms of snowpack depletion and their hydrological implications. The effects of midwinter melts were investigated at four instrumented sites in the Canadian prairies. Unlike net radiation-driven snowmelt during spring melt, turbulent sensible heat fluxes were the dominant source of energy inputs for midwinter melt occurring in the period with low solar radiation inputs. Midwinter melt events affect several aspects of hydrological cycle with lower runoff ratios than subsequent spring melt events, due to their role in the timing of the focussed recharge. Remote sensing data have shown that midwinter melt events regularly occur under the present climate throughout the Canadian prairies, indicating applicability of the study findings throughout the region.

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Pavlovskii, Igor / Hayashi, Masaki / Itenfisu, Daniel: Midwinter melts in the Canadian prairies: energy balance and hydrological effects. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Igor Pavlovskii et al.

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