Shallow soil moisture – ground thaw interactions and controls – Part 2: Influences of water and energy fluxes
Abstract. The companion paper (Guan et al., 2010) demonstrated variable interactions and correlations between shallow soil moisture and ground thaw in soil filled areas along a wetness spectrum in a subarctic Canadian Precambrian Shield landscape. From wetter to drier, these included a wetland, peatland and soil filled valley. Herein, water and energy fluxes were examined for these same subarctic study sites to discern the key controlling processes on the found patterns. Results showed the presence of surface water was the key control in variable soil moisture and frost table interactions among sites. At the peatland and wetland sites, accumulated water in depressions and flow paths maintained soil moisture for a longer duration than at the hummock tops. These wet areas were often locations of deepest thaw depth due to the transfer of latent heat accompanying lateral surface runoff. Although the peatland and wetland sites had large inundation extent, modified Péclet numbers indicated the relative influence of external and internal hydrological and energy processes at each site were different. Continuous inflow from an upstream lake into the wetland site caused advective and conductive thermal energies to be of equal importance to ground thaw. The absence of continuous surface flow at the peatland and valley sites led to dominance of conductive thermal energy over advective energy for ground thaw. The results suggest that the modified Péclet number could be a very useful parameter to differentiate landscape components in modeling frost table heterogeneity. The calculated water and energy fluxes, and the modified Péclet number provide quantitative explanations for the shallow soil moisture-ground thaw patterns by linking them with hydrological processes and hillslope storage capacity.