JWARP  Vol.8 No.5 , May 2016
Characterizing Subzero-Temperature Thermal Properties of Seasonally Frozen Soil in Alpine Forest in the Western Sichuan Province, China
Abstract: Seasonally frozen soil in alpine and subalpine zones in the mountains of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau is particularly sensitive to global climate change. Therefore, a better understanding of the thermal properties of frozen soil is crucial for predicting the responses of frozen soils to soil warming. In this study, thermal properties of frozen soil with different moisture contents under subzero temperature (0°C - 20°C) in an alpine forest in western Sichuan were analyzed by KD2 Pro in its cooling and heating processes, respectively. Our results reveal that the soil apparent volumetric specific heat capacity (Cv) and apparent thermal conductivity (K) under the same water content show similar response patterns to changing temperature lower than -2°C in both heating and cooling processes. Moreover, ice content of frozen soils can be well predicted by Logistic model in cooling and heating processes. The Cv and K tend to increase along with increasing soil moisture contents. Remarkably, asymptotic characters of the value of Cv and K are at the vicinity of the initial temperature of phase transitions, indicating that both Cv and K are particularly sensitive to changing soil temperature at the range of -2°C to 0°C. Therefore, the widely distributed frozen soil layers with temperature above -2°C in alpine and subalpine zones over Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau are susceptible to the observed climate warming during cold season.
Cite this paper: Sun, H. , Liu, S. and Qin, J. (2016) Characterizing Subzero-Temperature Thermal Properties of Seasonally Frozen Soil in Alpine Forest in the Western Sichuan Province, China. Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 8, 583-593. doi: 10.4236/jwarp.2016.85048.

[1]   Zhang, T., Barry, R.G., Knowles, K., et al. (2003) Distribution of Seasonally and Perennially Frozen Ground in the Northern Hemisphere. Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Permafrost, AA Balkema Publishers, 2, 1289-1294.

[2]   Zhang, X. and Sun, S. (2011) The Impact of Soil Freezing/Thawing Processes on Water and Energy Balances. Advances in Atmospheric Sciences, 28, 169-177.

[3]   Henry, H.A.L. (2008) Climate Change and Soil Freezing Dynamics: Historical Trends and Projected Changes. Climatic Change, 87, 421-434.

[4]   Kojima, Y., Heitman, J.L., Flerchinger, G.N., et al. (2013) Numerical Evaluation of a Sensible Heat Balance Method to Determine Rates of Soil Freezing and Thawing. Vadose Zone Journal, 12.

[5]   Schuur, E.A.G. and Abbott, B. (2011) High Risk of Permafrost Thaw. Nature, 480, 32-33.

[6]   Romanovsky, V.E. and Osterkamp, T.E. (2000) Effects of Unfrozen Water on Heat and Mass Transport Processes in the Active Layer and Permafrost. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 11, 219-239.<219::AID-PPP352>3.0.CO;2-7

[7]   Overduin, P.P., Kane, D.L. and van Loon, W.K.P. (2006) Measuring Thermal Conductivity in Freezing and Thawing Soil Using the Soil Temperature Response to Heating. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 45, 8-22.

[8]   Cruse, R.M., Mier, R. and Mize, C.W. (2001) Surface Residue Effects on Erosion of Thawing Soils. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 65, 178-184.

[9]   Zhang, Y., Carey, S.K. and Quinton, W.L. (2008) Evaluation of the Algorithms and Parameterizations for Ground Thawing and Freezing Simulation in Permafrost Regions. Journal of Geophysical Reaseach: Atmospheres, 113.

[10]   Buehrer, T.F. and Rose, M.S. (1943) Studies in Soil Structure V. Bound Water in Normal and Puddled Soils.

[11]   Williams, P.J. (1964) Unfrozen Water Content of Frozen Soils and Soil Moisture Suction. Geotechnique, 14, 231-246.

[12]   Kaiser, L.G., Meersmann, T., Logan, J.W., et al. (2000) Visualization of Gas Flow and Diffusion in Porous Media. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97, 2414-2418.

[13]   Spaans, E.J.A. and Baker, J.M. (1996) The Soil Freezing Characteristic: Its Measurement and Similarity to the Soil Moisture Characteristic. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 60, 13-19.

[14]   Bandfield, J.L. (2007) High-Resolution Subsurface Water-Ice Distributions on Mars. Nature, 447, 64-67.

[15]   Hauck, C., Böttcher, M. and Maurer, H. (2011) A New Model for Estimating Subsurface Ice Content Based on Combined Electrical and Seismic Data Sets. The Cryosphere, 5, 453-468.

[16]   Basinger, J.M., Kluitenberg, G.J., Ham, J.M., Frank, J.M., Barnes, P.L. and Kirkham, M.B. (2003) Laboratory Evaluation of the Dual-Probe Heat-Pulse Method for Measuring Soil Water Content. Vadose Zone Journal, 2, 389-399.

[17]   Liu, G. and Si, B.C. (2008) Dual-Probe Heat Pulse Method for Snow Density and Thermal Properties Measurement. Geophysical Research Letters, 35, L16404.

[18]   Tang, A.-M., Cui, Y.-J. and Le, T.-T. (2008) A Study on the Thermal Conductivity of Compacted Bentonites. Applied Clay Science, 41, 181-189.

[19]   Smits, K.M., Sakaki, T., Limsuwat, A. and Illangasekare, T.H. (2009) Determination of the Thermal Conductivity of Sands under Varying Moisture, Drainage/Wetting, and Porosity Conditions-Applications in Near-Surface Soil Moisture Distribution Analysis. AGU Hydrology Days.

[20]   Jorgenson, M.T., Romanovsky, V., Harden, J., et al. (2010) Resilience and Vulnerability of Permafrost to Climate Change. Canadian Journal of Forest Research, 40, 1219-1236.

[21]   Cheng, G.D. and Zhao, L. (2000) The Problems Associated with Permafrost in the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau. Quaternary Sciences, 20, 521-531.

[22]   Wu, T., Zhao, L., Li, R., Wang, Q.X., Xie, C.W. and Pang, Q.Q. (2013) Recent Ground Surface Warming and Its Effects on Permafrost on the Central Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. International Journal of Climatology, 33, 920-930.

[23]   Chen, B. and Li, J. (2008) Characteristics of Spatial and Temporal Variation of Seasonal and Short-Term Frozen Soil in China in Recent 50 Years. Chinese Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 32, 432-443. (In Chinese)

[24]   Gong, Z.T., Zhao, Q.G., Zeng, S.Z., et al. (1978) A Drafting Proposal for Soil Classification of China. Soils, 10, 168-169. (In Chinese)

[25]   Bristow, K.L., Kluitenberg, G.J. and Horton, R. (1994) Measurement of Soil Thermal Properties with a Dual-Probe Heat-Pulse Technique. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 58, 1288-1294.

[26]   Putkonen, J. (1998) Soil Thermal Properties and Heat Transfer Processes Near Ny-Alesund, Northwestern Spitsbergen, Svalbard. Polar Research, 17, 165-179.

[27]   Putkonen, J. (2003) Determination of Frozen Soil Thermal Properties by Heated Needle Probe. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes, 14, 343-347.

[28]   Ling, F. and Zhang, T. (2004) A Numerical Model for Surface Energy Balance and Thermal Regime of the Active Layer and Permafrost Containing Unfrozen Water. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 38, 1-15.

[29]   Hinkel, K.M. and Outcalt, S.I. (1993) Detection of Nonconductive Heat Transport in Soils Using Spectral Analysis. Water Resources Research, 29, 1017-1023.

[30]   Zhou, J. and Li, D. (2012) Numerical Analysis of Coupled Water, Heat and Stress in Saturated Freezing Soil. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 72, 43-49.

[31]   Abu-Hamdeh, N.H. (2003) Thermal Properties of Soils as Affected by Density and Water Content. Biosystems Engineering, 86, 97-102.

[32]   Xu, X., Oliphant, J.L. and Tice, A.R. (1985) Soil-Water Potential and Unfrozen Water Content and Temperature. Journal of Glaciology and Geocryology, 7, 1-14.

[33]   Monson, R.K., Lipson, D.L., Burns, S.P., et al. (2006) Winter Forest Soil Respiration Controlled by Climate and Microbial Community Composition. Nature, 439, 711-714.

[34]   Wallenstein, M., Allison, S.D., Ernakovich, J., Steinweg, J.M. and Sinsabaugh, R. (2011) Controls on the Temperature Sensitivity of Soil Enzymes: A Key Driver of In situ Enzyme Activity Rates. In: Shukla, G. and Varma, A., Eds., Soil Enzymology, Springer, Berlin, 245-258.

[35]   Lipson, D.A. (2007) Relationships between Temperature Responses and Bacterial Community Structure along Seasonal and Altitudinal Gradients. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 59, 418-427.

[36]   Koponen, H.T., Jaakkola, T., Keinänen-Toivola, M.M., et al. (2006) Microbial Communities, Biomass, and Activities in Soils as Affected by Freeze Thaw Cycles. Soil Biology and Biochemistry, 38, 1861-1871.

[37]   Yergeau, E. and Kowalchuk, G.A. (2008) Responses of Antarctic Soil Microbial Communities and Associated Functions to Temperature and Freeze-Thaw Cycle Frequency. Environmental Microbiology, 10, 2223-2235.

[38]   Kay, B.D., Fukuda, M., Izuta, H. and Sheppard, M.I. (1981) The Importance of Water Migration in the Measurement of the Thermal Conductivity of Unsaturated Frozen Soils. Cold Regions Science and Technology, 5, 95-106.

[39]   Lu, S., Ren, T., Gong, Y. and Horton, R. (2007) An Improved Model for Predicting Soil Thermal Conductivity from Water Content at Room Temperature. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 71, 8-14.

[40]   Nikolaev, I.V., Leong, W.H. and Rosen, M.A. (2013) Experimental Investigation of Soil Thermal Conductivity over a Wide Temperature Range. International Journal of Thermophysics, 34, 1110-1129.

[41]   Campbell, G.S., Jungbauer Jr., J.D., Bidlake, W.R. and Hungerford, R.D. (1994) Predicting the Effect of Temperature on Soil Thermal Conductivity. Soil Science, 158, 307-313.

[42]   Ochsner, T.E., Horton, R. and Ren, T. (2001) A New Perspective on Soil Thermal Properties. Soil Science Society of America Journal, 65, 1641-1647.

[43]   Seigo, S. (1977) Temperature Dependence of Thermal Conductivity of Frozen Soil. Research Report of Kitami Institute of Technology, 9, 111-122.