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University of Saskatchewan (2007)

Snow Hydrology of Canadian Prairie Droughts : Model Development and Application

Fang, Xing

Titre : Snow Hydrology of Canadian Prairie Droughts : Model Development and Application

Auteur : Fang, Xing

Université de soutenance : University of Saskatchewan Canada

Grade : Master of Science 2007

Hydrological models have been developed to estimate snow accumulation, snowmelt and snowmelt runoff on the Canadian Prairies ; however, their proper scale of application is unknown in the Prairie environment. The first objective of this thesis is to examine the proper scale for pre-melt snow accumulation as snow water equivalent (SWE) and snowmelt in a Prairie first order basin. Spatially distributed and spatially aggregated approaches were used to calculate SWE and snowmelt at St. Denis National Wildlife Area (SDNWA). Both approaches used models with similar physics, but differed in the model scale at which calculations were carried out. The simulated pre-melt SWE, cumulative seasonal SWE, and daily snowmelt from the two modelling approaches were compared to field observations of pre-melt SWE, cumulative seasonal SWE, and daily snowmelt ; comparisons of areal cumulative seasonal SWE, areal snowmelt, snowmelt duration, and snow-covered area were also conducted between two modelling approaches. Results from these comparisons showed that both approaches had reasonable and similar accuracy in estimation of SWE and snowmelt. The spatially aggregated approach was more computationally efficient and was selected as a modelling scale for small-sized prairie basins. Another objective of this thesis is to derive a snow hydrology model for the Canadian Prairies. Physically-based hydrological models were assembled in the Cold Regions Hydrological Model Platform (CRHM) using the aggregated approach. Tests of pre-melt SWE and surface snowmelt runoff were conducted at two basins in Saskatchewan – Creighton Tributary of Bad Lake and Wetland 109, St. Denis. Results showed that the snow hydrology model had a reasonable capability to simulate SWE and snowmelt runoff to the stream and wetland. Droughts are natural hazards that develop frequently on the Canadian Prairies. Analyzing the impact of drought on hydrological processes and water supply is another objective of this thesis. Synthetic drought scenarios were proposed for the Creighton Tributary of Bad Lake and the corresponding impacts on the snowmelt runoff-related processes were examined. Results indicated that wind redistribution of snow was very sensitive to drought conditions, sublimation of blowing snow and snow-covered period were sensitive to drought, but winter evaporation and infiltration did not show strong trend. The results also showed that drought conditions had magnified effects on the snowmelt runoff and could cause cessation of streamflow. Also, the impacts of the recent 1999-2005 drought on the snowmelt hydrology were investigated at St. Denis. Results illustrated that three-years (1999-2002) of severe winter drought were followed by a normal year (2002-03) and then a two-year (2003-05) recovery period, and then returning to normal (2005-06). Results showed that both snowfall and rainfall during hydrological winter were consistently low for severe drought and surface snowmelt runoff was very much lower during severe drought, about 45-65 mm less compared to that in the normal periods.


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