• Heat and Mass Transfer in Cold Regions Soils

      Kane, Douglas L.; Luthin, James N.; Taylor, George S. (University of Alaska, Institute of Water Resources, 1975-06)
    • Hydrologic Properties of Subarctic Organic Soils

      Kane, Douglas L.; Seifert, Richard D.; Taylor, George S. (University of Alaska, Institute of Water Resources, 1978-01)
      The need for understanding the natural system and how it responds to various stresses is important; this is especially so in an environment where the climate not only sustains permafrost, but develops massive seasonal frost as well. Consequently, the role of the shallow surface organic layer is also quite important. Since a slight change in the soil thermal regime may bring about a phase change in the water or ice, therefore, the system response to surface alterations such as burning can be quite severe. The need for a better understanding of the behavior and properties of the organic layer is, therefore, accentuated. The central theme of this study was the examination of the hydrologic and hydraulic properties of subarctic organic soils. Summarized in this paper are the results of three aspects of subarctic organic soil examinations conducted during the duration of the project. First, a field site was set up in Washington Creek with the major emphasis on measuring numerous variables of that soil system during the summer. The greatest variations in moisture content occur in the thick organic soils that exist at this site. Our major emphasis was to study the soil moisture levels in these soils. This topic is covered in the first major section, including associated laboratory studies. Those laboratory studies include investigations of several hydraulic and hydrologic properties of taiga organic and mineral soils. Second, some field data on organic moisture levels was collected at the site of prescribed burns in Washington Creek to ascertain the sustainability of fires as a function of moisture levels. This portion of the study is described under the second major heading. The last element of this study was a continued application of the two-dimensional flow model that was developed in an earlier study funded by the U. S. Forest Service, Institute of Northern Forestry, and reported by Kane, Luthin, and Taylor (1975a). Many of the results and concepts gathered in the field work were integrated into the modeling effort, which is aimed at producing better estimates of the hydrologic effects of surface disturbances in the black spruce taiga subarctic ecosystem. This knowledge should also contribute to better fire management decisions of the same system.
    • Snowmelt -frozen soil characteristics for a subarctic setting

      Kane, Douglas L.; Seifert, Richard D.; Fox, John D.; Taylor, George S. (University of Alaska, Institute of Water Resources, 1978-01)
      The pathways of soil water in cold climates are influenced, in addition to the normal forces, by the presence of permafrost and the temperature gradients in the soil system, whereas the infiltration of surface water into the soil system is a function of moisture levels, soil type and condition of the soil (whether it is frozen or not). Snowfall, with subsequent surface storage over a period of several months, typifies Alaskan winters. This snowfall often accounts for 50 per cent or more of the annual precipitation, with ablation occurring over a time span of 2 to 3 weeks in the spring. The melt period represents an event when large quantities of water may enter the soil system; the possibilities exist for recharging the groundwater system, or else generating surface runoff. The objective of this study was to determine the magnitude of potential groundwater recharge from snowmelt. Instrumentation was installed and monitored over two winter seasons to quantify the accumulation and ablation of the snowpack. Thermal and moisture data were collected to characterize the snow pack and soil conditions prior to, during, and following the ablation. Lysimeters were installed at various depths to intercept soil water. The volume of potential areal recharge for 1976 was 3.5 cm and for 1977 was 3.0 cm, which represented about 35 per cent of the maximum snowpack content. It is concluded that permafrost-free areas can contribute significantly to groundwater recharge during snowmelt ablation.