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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - Soil Physics

An Empirical Model for Estimating Soil Thermal Conductivity from Texture, Water Content, and Bulk Density


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 78 No. 6, p. 1859-1868
    Received: May 30, 2014
    Published: September 19, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): tsren@cau.edu.cn
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  1. Yili Lua,
  2. Sen Lub,
  3. Robert Hortonc and
  4. Tusheng Ren *d
  1. a Dep. of Soil and Water Sciences China Agricultural Univ. Beijing 100193 China
    b Research Institute of Forestry Chinese Academy of Forestry Beijing 100091 China
    c Dep. of Agronomy Iowa State Univ. Ames, IA 50011
    d Dep. of Soil and Water Sciences China Agricultural Univ. Beijing 100193 China


Soil thermal conductivity (λ) models are needed frequently in studying coupled heat and water transfer in soils. Several models are available, but some are complicated and some produce relatively large errors. In this study, we developed a simple model for estimating λ from soil texture, bulk density (ρb), and water content (θ). Three parameters, α, β, and λdry, are included in the model, where λdry is determined by ρb and α and β are shape factors estimated from soil texture and ρb. Empirical relations were developed for α and β by fitting the model to heat-pulse (HP) measurements of λ(θ) on seven soils of various textures. The model performance was evaluated with independent λ(θ) data from independent HP measurements and literature values. The results show that the model is able to express the λ(θ) curves from oven dry to saturation at fixed ρb values. When ρb is varied, the estimated λ data agree well with measured values. The root mean square errors are <0.15 W m−1 K−1, and the bias is within 0.10 W m−1 K−1. The new model has the potential for use in studying heat movement in soils of varying texture, bulk density, and water content and can be incorporated into numerical algorithms for describing coupled heat and mass transfer processes.

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