The infiltrability of frozen soils modulates the partitioning of snowmelt between infiltration and runoff in cold regions. Preferential flow in macropores may enhance infiltration, but flow dynamics in frozen soil are complicated by soil heat transfer processes. We developed a dual-permeability model that considers the interacting effects of freeze–thaw and preferential flow on infiltration and runoff generation in structured soils. This formulation was incorporated into the fully integrated groundwater–surface water model HydroGeoSphere, to represent water–ice phase change in macropores such that porewater freezing is governed by macropore–matrix heat exchange. Model performance was evaluated against laboratory experiments and synthetic test cases designed to examine the effects of preferential flow on snowmelt partitioning between infiltration, runoff, and drainage. Simulations were able to reproduce experimental observations of rapid infiltration and drainage behavior due to macropores very well, and approximated soil thaw to an acceptable degree. Simulation of measured data highlighted the importance of macropore hydraulic conductivity, as well as macropore–matrix heat and water transfer, on controlling preferential flow dynamics. Test cases replicated a range of snowmelt partitioning behavior commonly observed in frozen soils, including subsurface conditions that produce rapid infiltration and deeper drainage, the contrast between limited vs. unlimited infiltration responses to snowmelt, and the temporal evolution of runoff generation. This study demonstrates the important influence that water freezing along preferential flowpaths can have on infiltrability and runoff characteristics in frozen soils and provides a physically based description of this mechanism that links infiltration behavior to hydraulic and thermal properties of structured soils.
This study evaluates the applicability of the chloride mass balance (CMB) method for groundwater recharge estimation in a semi-arid region in Canada, where recharge largely occurs under topographic depressions. The CMB applicability was tested at three scales: point-scale recharge rates at different topographical positions; average recharge rates incorporating multiple topographical positions on a local scale; and an identification of spatial trends of recharge on a regional scale. Agricultural chloride inputs were shown to be a major factor affecting chloride concentrations at all three scales, where elevated chloride concentrations in the shallow subsurface affected by agricultural inputs surpassed background concentrations by an order of magnitude. The propagation depth of elevated concentrations varied among study sites from being largely confined to the unsaturated zone to extending well into the saturated zone. Lateral chloride redistribution further affected the CMB applicability for point-scale recharge rates. Specific solutions enabling the CMB application in these conditions are presented, including runoff concentration measurements for point-scale estimates, using groundwater age tracers on a local scale, and using the harmonic mean concentration of a large number of samples on a regional scale.
Review highlights the hydrological importance of macropore flow in frozen soils. Governing flow mechanisms and infiltration and refreezing dynamics are discussed. Research is needed to integrate macropore flow and soil freeze–thaw theory. Dual‐domain models of macropore flow should be adapted to frozen ground. A conceptual framework for modeling frozen macroporous soils is proposed.