Soil freeze-thaw events have important implications for water resources, flood risk, land productivity, and climate change. A property of these phenomena is the relationship between unfrozen water content and sub-freezing temperature, known as the soil freezing characteristic curve (SFC). It is documented that this relationship exhibits hysteretic behaviour when frozen soil thaws, leading to the definition of the soil thawing characteristic curve (STC). Although explanations have been given for SFC/STC hysteresis, the effect that “scale”—particularly “measurement scale”—may have on these curves has received little attention. The most commonly used measurement scale metric is the “grain” or “support,” which is the spatial (or temporal) unit within which the measured variable is integrated—in this case, the soil volume sampled. We show (1) measurement support can influence the range and shape of the SFC and (2) hysteresis can be, at least partially, attributed to the support and location of the measurements comprising the SFC/STC. We simulated lab measured temperature, volumetric water content (VWC), and permittivity from soil samples undergoing freeze-thaw transitions using Hydrus-1D and a modified Dobson permittivity model. To assess the effect of measurement support and location on SFC/STC, we masked the simulated temperature and VWC/permittivity extent to match the instrument’s grain and location. By creating a detailed simulation of the intra- and inter-grain variability associated with the penetration of a freezing front, we demonstrate how measurement support and location can influence the temperature range over which water freezing events are captured. We show it is possible to simulate hysteresis in homogenous media with purely geometric considerations, suggesting that SFC/STC hysteresis may be more of an apparent phenomenon than mechanistically real. Lastly, we develop an understanding of how the location and support of soil temperature and VWC/permittivity measurements influence the temperature range over which water freezing events are captured.
Assessment of Impacts of Climate Change on Tile Discharge and Nitrogen Yield Using the DRAINMOD Model
Golmar Golmohammadi, R. P. Rudra, Gary Parkin, Priyantha B. Kulasekera, Merrin L. Macrae, Pradeep Goel
Hydrology, Volume 8, Issue 1
The detrimental impacts of agricultural subsurface tile flows and their associated pollutants on water quality is a major environmental issue in the Great Lakes region and many other places globally. A strong understanding of water quality indicators along with the contribution of tile-drained agriculture to water contamination is necessary to assess and reduce a significant source of non-point source pollution. In this study, DRAINMOD, a field-scale hydrology and water quality model, was applied to assess the impact of future climatic change on depth to water table, tile flow and associated nitrate loss from an 8.66 ha agricultural field near Londesborough, in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. The closest available climate data from a weather station approximately 10 km from the field site was used by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to generate future predictions of daily precipitation and maximum and minimum air temperatures required to create the weather files for DRAINMOD. Of the 28 models applied by MNRF, three models (CGCM3T47-Run5, GFDLCM2.0, and MIROC3.2hires) were selected based on the frequency of the models recommended for use in Ontario with SRA1B emission scenario. Results suggested that simulated tile flows and evapotranspiration (ET) in the 2071–2100 period are expected to increase by 7% and 14% compared to 1960–1990 period. Results also suggest that under future climates, significant increases in nitrate losses (about 50%) will occur along with the elevated tile flows. This work suggests that climate change will have a significant effect on field hydrology and water quality in tile-drained agricultural regions.