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Modelling near-surface ice content and midwinter melt events in mineral soils
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  • Élise Devoie,
  • Renato Pardo Lara,
  • Aaron Berg,
  • James Craig,
  • William Quinton
Élise Devoie
University of Waterloo Faculty of Engineering

Corresponding Author:elise.devoie@mail.mcgill.ca

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Renato Pardo Lara
University of Guelph
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Aaron Berg
University of Guelph
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James Craig
University of Waterloo
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William Quinton
Wilfrid Laurier University
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Over winter freeze-thaw events are notoriously difficult to represent in hydrologic models and have serious implications for the hydrologic function of intermittently freezing regions. With changing climate leading to higher variability in observed weather patterns, it is anticipated that mid-winter thaw events may become more numerous at locales where intermittent thaw was previously rare. Midwinter thaw events are often the cause of flooding due to the combined impacts of snowmelt, precipitation, and limited soil infiltrability. A numerically efficient, semi-analytical coupled thermal and mass transport model is presented that is capable of representing the ice content of near-surface soil. This model allows for rapid and stable prediction of the ice content of frozen or partially frozen near-surface soil without having to solve a discrete form of the coupled partial differential equations describing the soil water and energy balance. The model tracks pore ice formation and mean soil temperature in terms of enthalpy. It is tested against data collected in Southern Saskatchewan and is shown to capably reproduce field observations. This model is efficient enough to be incorporated as a module into existing regional hydrologic models and is expected to improve predictions of soil ice content, which can later lead to improved estimates of over-winter streamflow and flood potential.