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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-423
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-423
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 13 Aug 2018

Research article | 13 Aug 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Effects of midwinter snowmelt on runoff generation and groundwater recharge in the Canadian prairies

Igor Pavlovskii1, Masaki Hayashi1, and Daniel Itenfisu2 Igor Pavlovskii et al.
  • 1Department of Geoscience, University of Calgary, Alberta, T2N 1N4, Canada
  • 2Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Edmonton, Alberta, T6H 5T6, Canada

Abstract. Snowpack accumulation and depletion are important elements of the hydrological cycle in the prairies. The surface runoff generated during snowmelt is transformed into streamflow or fills numerous depressions driving the focused 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 melt were investigated at three 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 had lower runoff ratios than subsequent spring melt events and had strong impacts on 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.

Igor Pavlovskii et al.
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Igor Pavlovskii et al.
Igor Pavlovskii et al.
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Short summary
Midwinter melts are an often overlooked factor in hydrological processes in the cold regions. The present paper highlights differences in the energy balance between midwinter and spring melts. It also shows how midwinter melts occurence affects runoff generation and the timing of groundwater recharge.
Midwinter melts are an often overlooked factor in hydrological processes in the cold regions....
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