Understanding the mass, momentum, and energy transfer in the frozen soil with three levels of model complexities

Lianyu Yu, Yijian Zeng*, Zhongbo Su

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Frozen ground covers a vast area of the Earth’s surface and it has important ecohydrological implications for cold regions under changing climate. However, it is challenging to characterize the simultaneous transfer of mass and energy in frozen soils. Within the modeling framework of Simultaneous Transfer of Mass, Momentum, and Energy in Unsaturated Soil (STEMMUS), the complexity of the soil heat and mass transfer model varies from the basic coupled model (termed BCM) to the advanced coupled heat and mass transfer model (ACM), and, furthermore, to the explicit consideration of airflow (ACM–AIR). The impact of different model complexities on understanding the mass, momentum, and energy transfer in frozen soil was investigated. The model performance in simulating water and heat transfer and surface latent heat flux was evaluated over a typical Tibetan plateau meadow site. Results indicate that the ACM considerably improved the simulation of soil moisture, temperature, and latent heat flux. The analysis of the heat budget reveals that the improvement of soil temperature simulations by ACM is attributed to its physical consideration of vapor flow and the thermal effect on water flow, with the former mainly functioning above the evaporative front and the latter dominating below the evaporative front. The contribution of airflow-induced water and heat transport (driven by the air pressure gradient) to the total mass and energy fluxes is negligible. Nevertheless, given the explicit consideration of airflow, vapor flow and its effects on heat transfer were enhanced during the freezing–thawing transition period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4813-4830
Number of pages18
JournalHydrology and earth system sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2020




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