Soil hydrothermal modeling in a dry alpine agricultural zone: The effect of soil airflow

Jiaxin Wang, Xiaodong Gao*, Xining Zhao, Hua Wan, Yijian Zeng, Lianyu Yu, Brett Robinson, Yanqin Zhou, Kadambot H.M. Siddique, Pute Wu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Acquiring soil hydrothermal information using process-based models is important for agricultural management in dry alpine regions where in situ data collection is difficult. However, few modeling studies have considered the soil airflow transport mechanism for arid regions especially, the presence of dry airflow in soil can affect water and heat transport. Here, we adopt an airflow-coupling hydrological model, Simultaneous Transfer of Energy, Mass, and Momentum in Unsaturated Soil (STEMMUS), to simulate soil hydrothermal processes and evapotranspiration dynamics in a dry farmland on the Tibetan Plateau (TP). The effect of airflow on the simulations was carefully assessed. Our results suggested that STEMMUS can reliably capture daily observations—the average values for the index of agreement (d) in the 20–100 cm soil profile were 0.94 for soil temperature, 0.83 for soil moisture, 0.72 for soil evaporation and 0.83 for crop evapotranspiration, respectively, during the validation period. The impacts of considering airflow transport occurred when water inputs reached 22.8 mm, showing a positive relationship with increasing precipitation/irrigation. Incorporating airflow in the model showed minor differences but basically improved the modeling precision for soil moisture (reduction in root mean squared error (RMSE) values ranging from 0 to 95.9%), evapotranspiration (reduction in RMSE values ranging from 0 to 97.8%) and evaporation (reduction in RMSE values ranging from 0 to 99.3%) following rainfall/irrigation events. These findings provide sights into the role of airflow in the complex soil physical processes, and highlight that rainfall/irrigation inputs are a major factor affecting simulations when airflow is considered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115354
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Early online date28 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • Arid agricultural region
  • Hydrothermal dynamics
  • Soil airflow
  • Tibetan Plateau


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