Effect of Snow Cover on Upward Movement of Soil Moisture

by Eugene L. Peck, Dir.; Hydrologic Res. Lab, Nat. Weather Service, Nat. Oceanic and Atomospheric Administration, Silver Spring, MD,

Serial Information: Journal of the Irrigation and Drainage Division, 1974, Vol. 100, Issue 4, Pg. 405-412

Document Type: Journal Paper


The soil moisture in the ground beneath a snow cover in the north central United States has been observed to increase during the winter season. The maximum prethaw soil moisture frequently is observed immediately prior to the onset of the spring melt. A primary mechanism producing the increase is the upward movement of moisture in both liquid and vapor phase that may occur with or without the presence of frozen conditions when induced by a temperature gradient. The importance of this phenomenon in relation to forecasting the snowmelt runoff during the critical spring period is examined.

Subject Headings: Snow | Soil water | Winter | Moisture | Temperature effects | Forecasting | Snowmelt | Runoff | United States

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