Abstract

The paper summarizes the results of 5 years of study of the interaction between snowmelt infiltration (INF), snow-cover water equivalent (SWE), and soil moisture content at the time of melt (θp) for soils in the Brown and Dark Brown zones of the Canadian Prairies. It is shown that in uncracked soils the depth infiltrating water percolates into the soil during the melt sequence is, on the average, approximately 30 cm and that θp of the frozen layer at the soil surface (0–30 cm) is the dominant factor governing the amount of snowmelt infiltration, independent of soil texture and vegetative cover. Empirical expressions, in the form of power equations and graphs, are presented describing the relationship between the variables. Because of their simplicity they have direct practical application to a number of water management problems of the region. A conceptual model for describing the snowmelt infiltration phenomenon in operational water management schemes is presented. It divides the infiltration potential of Prairie soils into three broad categories: unlimited, limited, and restricted, based on the water entry, transmission, and storage properties of the frozen ground.

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