Articles | Volume 5, issue 2
The Cryosphere, 5, 469–484, 2011

Special issue: Modeling the spatial dynamics of permafrost and seasonally...

The Cryosphere, 5, 469–484, 2011

Research article 01 Jun 2011

Research article | 01 Jun 2011

A robust and energy-conserving model of freezing variably-saturated soil

M. Dall'Amico1,*, S. Endrizzi2, S. Gruber2, and R. Rigon1 M. Dall'Amico et al.
  • 1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Trento, Trento, Italy
  • 2Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, Zurich, Switzerland
  • *now at: Mountain-eering srl, Via Siemens 19, Bolzano, Italy

Abstract. Phenomena involving frozen soil or rock are important in many natural systems and, as a consequence, there is a great interest in the modeling of their behavior. Few models exist that describe this process for both saturated and unsaturated soil and in conditions of freezing and thawing, as the energy equation shows strongly non-linear characteristics and is often difficult to handle with normal methods of iterative integration. Therefore in this paper we propose a method for solving the energy equation in freezing soil. The solver is linked with the solution of Richards equation, and is able to approximate water movement in unsaturated soils and near the liquid-solid phase transition. A globally-convergent Newton method has been implemented to achieve robust convergence of this scheme. The method is tested by comparison with an analytical solution to the Stefan problem and by comparison with experimental data derived from the literature.