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Water 2017, 9(6), 370;

The Critical Depth of Freeze-Thaw Soil under Different Types of Snow Cover

School of Water Conservancy & Civil Engineering, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin 150030, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Xixi Wang
Received: 17 February 2017 / Revised: 19 May 2017 / Accepted: 22 May 2017 / Published: 25 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water-Soil-Vegetation Dynamic Interactions in Changing Climate)
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Snow cover is the most common upper boundary condition influencing the soil freeze-thaw process in the black soil farming area of northern China. Snow is a porous dielectric cover, and its unique physical properties affect the soil moisture diffusion, heat conduction, freezing rate and other variables. To understand the spatial distribution of the soil water-heat and the variable characteristics of the critical depth of the soil water and heat, we used field data to analyze the freezing rate of soil and the extent of variation in soil water-heat in a unit soil layer under bare land (BL), natural snow (NS), compacted snow (CS) and thick snow (TS) treatments. The critical depth of the soil water and heat activity under different snow covers were determined based on the results of the analysis, and the variation fitting curve of the difference sequences on the soil temperature and water content between different soil layers and the surface 5-cm soil layer were used to verify the critical depth. The results were as follows: snow cover slowed the rate of soil freezing, and the soil freezing rate under the NS, CS and TS treatments decreased by 0.099 cm/day, 0.147 cm/day and 0.307 cm/day, respectively, compared with that under BL. In addition, the soil thawing time was delayed, and the effect was more significant with increased snow cover. During freeze-thaw cycles, the extent of variation in the water and heat time series in the shallow soil was relatively large, while there was less variation in the deep layer. There was a critical stratum in the vertical surface during hydrothermal migration, wherein the critical depth of soil water and heat change gradually increased with increasing snow cover. The variance in differences between the surface layer and both the soil water and heat in the different layers exhibited “steady-rising-steady” behavior, and the inflection point of the curve is the critical depth of soil freezing and thawing. This critical layer is a demarcation point between frozen soil and non-frozen soil, delineating the boundary between soil water and heat migration and non-migration. Furthermore, with increasing snow cover thickness and increasing density, the critical depth gradually increased. View Full-Text
Keywords: freezing and thawing soil; soil water-heat transfer; hydrothermal variation; time series freezing and thawing soil; soil water-heat transfer; hydrothermal variation; time series

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Fu, Q.; Hou, R.; Li, T.; Yan, P.; Ma, Z. The Critical Depth of Freeze-Thaw Soil under Different Types of Snow Cover. Water 2017, 9, 370.

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