Journal of Arid Land

Article Title

An analytical model for estimating soil temperature profiles on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China


Soil temperature is a key variable in the control of underground hydro-thermal processes. To estimate soil temperature more accurately, this study proposed a solution method of the heat conduction equation of soil temperature (improved heat conduction model) by applying boundary conditions that incorporate the annual and diurnal variations of soil surface temperature and the temporal variation of daily temperature amplitude, as well as the temperature difference between two soil layers in the Tanggula observation site of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China. We employed both the improved heat conduction model and the classical heat conduction model to fit soil temperature by using the 5 cm soil layer as the upper boundary for soil depth. The results indicated that the daily soil temperature amplitude can be better described by the sinusoidal function in the improved model, which then yielded more accurate soil temperature simulating effect at the depth of 5 cm. The simulated soil temperature values generated by the improved model and classical heat conduction model were then compared to the observed soil temperature values at different soil depths. Statistical analyses of the root mean square error (RMSE), the normalized standard error (NSEE) and the bias demonstrated that the improved model showed higher accuracy, and the average values of RMSE, bias and NSEE at the soil depth of 10–105 cm were 1.41°C, 1.15°C and 22.40%, respectively. These results indicated that the improved heat conduction model can better estimate soil temperature profiles compared to the traditional model.

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