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In the prairie regions of Western Canada a considerable portion of the annual precipitation occurs as winter snowfall. The success of dryland agriculture in this region is highly dependent on the moisture obtained from snowbelt and stored in the root zone as a supplement to the usually inadequate summer precipitation. The winter precipitation remains on the soil surface as snow until that period of the spring when melt occurs, and at that time all of the accumulated moisture becomes available for infiltration and runoff in a relatively short period of time, usually two or three days. Soil and climatological conditions existing at the time of snowmelt, determine how the water produced from snowmelt will be distributed between infiltration and runoff. The soil on the Canadian prairies, immediately prior to spring melt, will be frozen to a depth of 5 feet (1.5 metres) or more, thus infiltration must occur into a frozen soil profile. The volume of water that infiltrates the soil will depend on soil moisture conditions which existed at the time of freeze up and on the heat supply at the soil surface during the melt period. For significant infiltration to occur sufficient heat must be available to produce water from the snow pack and there must be an adequate transmission of heat to the soil to prevent refreezing and thereby sealing of the soil pores. As the amount of heat available to the soil is increased, soil thaw will occur, freeing more soil pores of ice and resulting in increased infiltration.
infiltration into frozen soils
Murray, J.M. and J.A. Gillies 1971. INFILTRATION INTO FROZEN SOILS. Canadian Agricultural Engineering 13(1):4-7.
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