Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2016ND311B

Snowmelt Water Infiltration into Frozen Soils in the Red River of the North Basin

Institute: North Dakota
Year Established: 2016 Start Date: 2016-03-01 End Date: 2017-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $3,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: $6,000

Principal Investigators: Xinhua Jia

Abstract: During the 2013 spring flood event in the Red River of the North Basin (RRB), the floodwater was several feet below the level initially forecasted. National Weather Service (NWS) hydrologists investigated and resolved that computer models predicted higher floodwater level than the actual event according to the snow equivalent water amount. The cause for the difference between the predicted and actual flood stage could be due to computer prediction models inability to account for frozen dry soil that absorbed as much as half of the snowmelted water through infiltration. Inaccurate flood prediction, either overestimating or underestimating, is directly related to flood protection responses for the 200,000 people in the Fargo-Moorhead metro area as well as people and animals in the entire basin. To help solve these problems, a well-defined infiltration model for frozen soil is needed to overcome the current obstacles in order to accurately predict spring flood. The following research objectives are proposed for this study: 1) To compare field and laboratory observed infiltration measurements to the output of available infiltration/water transport models; and 2) To develop a snowmelt water infiltration model based on laboratory and field data and evaluate model outputs with other available infiltration models.