Changes in overall and inter-variability of runoff and soil loss for a loess soil resulted from a freezing-thawing cycle

Environ Monit Assess. 2023 Jun 19;195(7):860. doi: 10.1007/s10661-023-11446-9.


The soil freeze-thaw process is a transition phase of soil water in cold areas that influences the soil's hydrological behavior. However, dynamic phenomena and corresponding consequences have yet to be studied adequately. Therefore, the present study was planned to comparatively analyze the effects of a freezing-thawing cycle on the hydrologic behaviors of loess soil from northeast Iran. Small-size (0.5 × 0.50 m) erosion plots were subjected to a freezing-thawing cycle under governing conditions of the region of the origin soil. The plots were subjected to a freezing-thawing treatment by inducing cold air until the temperature declined to below - 20 °C and lasted for 3 days using a cooling compartment system and then were kept in the laboratory with an ambient temperature of above 10 °C for 2 days. The treated plots and untreated plots were then exposed to a simulated rainfall with an intensity of 72 mm h-1 and 0.5 h duration while they were placed on a slope of 20%. The results indicated that the hybrid processes of freezing-thawing and splash and inter-rill erosions significantly increased runoff generation and soil loss. The time to runoff, runoff volume, and soil loss were 1.65 times less and 1.38 and 2.90 times more, respectively, compared to those reported for the control treatment with significant differences (p < 0.006). The performance of ice lenses, freezing fronts, and the creation of near-saturation moisture after completing the cycle were identified as the most critical factors affecting the different soil behaviors under the frozen-thawed cycle.

Keywords: Fluvial behavior; Freeze–thaw phenomenon; Ice-bound soil; Rainfall simulation; Soil hydrology.

MeSH terms

  • Cold Temperature
  • Environmental Monitoring* / methods
  • Freezing
  • Soil*
  • Temperature


  • Soil