27 Oct 2023
 | 27 Oct 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

A Distributed Temperature Sensing based soil temperature profiler

Bart Schilperoort, César Jiménez Rodríguez, Bas Van de Wiel, and Miriam Coenders-Gerrits

Abstract. Storage of heat in the soil is one of the main components of the energy balance, and is essential in studying the land-atmosphere heat exchange. However, its measurement proves to be difficult, due to (vertical) soil heterogeneity and sensors easily disturbing the soil.

Improvements in precision and resolution of Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) equipment has resulted in widespread use in geoscientific studies. Multiple studies have shown the added value of spatially distributed measurements of soil temperature and soil heat flux. However, due to the spatial resolution of DTS measurements (~30 cm), soil temperature measurements with DTS have generally been restricted to (horizontal) spatially distributed measurements. In this paper a device is presented which allows high resolution measurements of (vertical) soil temperature profiles, by making use of a 3D printed screw-like structure.

A 50 cm tall probe is created from segments manufactured with fused filament 3D printing, and has a helical groove to guide and protect a fiber optic cable. This configuration increases the effective DTS measurement resolution, and will inhibit preferential flow along the probe. The probe was tested in the field, where the results were in agreement with the reference sensors. The high vertical resolution of the DTS-measured soil temperature allowed determination of the thermal diffusivity of the soil at a resolution of 2.5 cm, many times better than feasible with discrete probes.

Future improvements in the design could be integrated reference temperature probes, which would remove the need for DTS calibration baths. This could, in turn, support making the probes `plug and play' of the shelf instruments, without the need to splice cables or experience in DTS-setup design. The design can also support integrating an electrical conductor into the probe, and allow heat tracer experiments to derive both the heat capacity and thermal conductivity over depth at high resolution.

Bart Schilperoort et al.

Status: open (until 12 Dec 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2292', Bartosz Zawilski, 30 Oct 2023 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2023-2292', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Dec 2023 reply

Bart Schilperoort et al.

Bart Schilperoort et al.


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Latest update: 06 Dec 2023
Short summary
Heat storage in the soil is difficult to measure due to vertical heterogeneity. To improve measurements we designed a 3D-printed probe that uses fiber-optic distributed temperature sensing to measure a vertical profile of soil temperature. We validated the temperature measurements against standard instrumentation. With the high resolution data we were able to determine the thermal diffusivity of the soil at a resolution of 2.5 cm, which is much higher compared to traditional methods.