27 Oct 2020

27 Oct 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Soil infiltration characteristics and pore distribution under freezing-thawing conditions

Ruiqi Jiang1,2,3,, Tianxiao Li1,2,3,, Dong Liu1,2,3, Qiang Fu1,2,3, Renjie Hou1,2,3, Qinglin Li1, Song Cui1,2,3, and Mo Li1,2,3 Ruiqi Jiang et al.
  • 1School of Water Conservancy & Civil Engineering, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin 150030, China
  • 2Key Laboratory of Effective Utilization of Agricultural Water Resources of Ministry of Agriculture, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin, Heilongjiang 150030, China
  • 3Heilongjiang Provincial Key Laboratory of Water Resources and Water Conservancy Engineering in Cold Region, Northeast Agricultural University, Harbin, Heilongjiang 150030, China
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Frozen soil infiltration widely occurs in hydrological processes such as seasonal soil freezing and thawing, snowmelt infiltration, and runoff. Accurate measurement and simulation of parameters related to frozen soil infiltration processes are highly important for agricultural water management, environmental issues and engineering problems in cold regions. Temperature changes cause soil pore size distribution variations and consequently dynamic infiltration capacity changes during different freeze-thaw periods. To better understand these complex processes and to reveal the freeze-thaw action effects on soil pore distribution and infiltration capacity, selected black and meadow soils and chernozem, which account for the largest arable land area in Heilongjiang Province, China. Laboratory tests of soils at different temperatures were conducted using a tension infiltrometer and ethylene glycol aqueous solution. The stable infiltration rate, hydraulic conductivity were measured, and the soil pore distribution was calculated. The results indicated that for the different soil types, macropores, which constituted approximately 0.1 % to 0.2 % of the soil volume under unfrozen conditions, contributed approximately 50 % of the saturated flow, and after soil freezing, the soil macropore proportion decreased to 0.05 % to 0.1 %, while their saturated flow proportion decreased to approximately 30 %. Soil moisture froze into ice crystals inside relatively large pores, resulting in numerous smaller-sized pores, which reduced the number of macropores while increasing the number of smaller-sized mesopores, so that the frozen soil infiltration capacity was no longer solely dependent on the macropores. After the ice crystals had melted, more pores were formed within the soil, enhancing the soil permeability.

Ruiqi Jiang et al.

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Ruiqi Jiang et al.

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Ruiqi Jiang et al.


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Short summary
The manuscript outlines the results from laboratory tests of soil freezing impacts on infiltration rates, hydraulic conductivity and soil pore distribution characteristics. The results indicated that macropores (> 5 mm) accounted for < 1 % of the pore volume contributed half of the flow in unfrozen conditions, and that the freezing of macropores resulted in considerable decreases in hydraulic conductivity. The results should be of interest for cold region hydrology in general.