About Us | Help Videos | Contact Us | Subscriptions

Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Thermal Conductivity of Soils as a Function of Temperature and Water Content1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 43 No. 3, p. 439-444
    Received: Nov 13, 1978
    Accepted: Jan 24, 1979

Request Permissions

  1. A. R. Sepaskhah and
  2. L. Boersma2



Apparent thermal conductivities of loamy sand, loam, and silty clay loam soils were measured with a cylindrical heat probe at several water contents and temperatures. Values of λ were also calculated with the de Vries model. Results show that the model may be used satisfactorily to calculate λ. However, improvements may be needed to account for the enhancement of vapor transfer at high temperatures (45° C) in medium to fine textured soils. The heat probe method of measuring the thermal conductivity requires a correction factor to allow for errors due to the entrapment of air at the surface of the heat probe, when used at water contents ranging from 0 to about 30% of saturation.

The contribution of vapor distillation to thermal conductivity was analyzed by comparing λ at 25 and 45° C. The ratios λ4525 were nearly equal to unity when < 5% of total pore space was filled with water. The ratios increased, due to vapor distillation, as water filled the pores and reached maximum values of 2.17, 2.71, and 2.96 when 22, 27, and 35% of total pore space was filled with water, corresponding to soil water potentials of −0.8, −9.0, and −8.0 bars for loamy sand, loam, and silty clay loam, respectively. As the water content increased further, the ratios decreased and approached unity when > 50% of total space was filled with water.

The apparent thermal conductivity was independent of water content at very low water contents. The water molecules are in layers only a few molecules thick. The water content below which the apparent thermal conductivity is not affected by water content is a function of the soil temperature and the clay content. In our experiments these water contents were 0.03 and 0.05 cm3/cm3 at 45° C and 0.13 and 0.18 cm3/cm3 at 25° C for the loam and silty clay loam respectively.

  Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.

Copyright © . Soil Science Society of America