Environmental Earth Sciences

, 78:632 | Cite as

Influence of atmospheric temperature on shallow slope stability

  • Gang Liu
  • Fuguo TongEmail author
  • Bin Tian
  • Wenjing Tian
Original Article


The occurrence of landslide has correlations with the atmospheric temperature change. Assessing the influence of changes in atmospheric temperature on landslides is helpful for the landslide treatment. This study simulates rainfall infiltration in a homogeneous soil slope under varying atmospheric temperatures based on water–air two–phase flow theory and the heat transfer equation. The safety factor of a slide slip is calculated using the residual thrust method under different atmospheric temperatures. The results show that changes in atmospheric temperature affect the seepage field of a slope, possibly affecting the slope stability. Under the same initial and rainfall conditions, the higher the atmospheric temperature is, the higher the rainfall infiltration rate; the deeper the infiltration depth is, the higher the air pressure in the slope and the lower the slope safety factor. Numerical simulations show apparent correlations between atmospheric temperature changes and the safety factor of a slope. Thus, the higher the atmospheric temperature is, the lower the safety factor of a slope. Under certain conditions, changes in atmospheric temperature may trigger landslides.


Shallow slope stability Atmospheric temperature Water–air two-phase flow Heat transfer 



This research was sponsored by The National Key Research and Development Program of China (2017YFC1501100), Research Fund for Excellent Dissertation of China Three Gorges University (Grant no. 2019BSPY001) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant nos. 51279090, 51939004). The authors are also deeply grateful to anonymous reviewers and editors for their useful comments and suggestions.


  1. Buma J, Dehn M (1998) A method for predicting the impact of climate change on slope stability. Environ Geol 35:190–196. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Chen G, Meng X, Qiao L et al (2018) Response of a loess landslide to rainfall: observations from a field artificial rainfall experiment in Bailong River Basin. China. Landslides. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cho SE (2016) Stability analysis of unsaturated soil slopes considering water–air flow caused by rainfall infiltration. Eng Geol 211:184–197. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Corey AT (1954) The interrelation between gas and oil relative permeabilities. Prod Mon 1:38–41Google Scholar
  5. Dou H, Han T, Gong X et al (2015) Effects of the spatial variability of permeability on rainfall-induced landslides. Eng Geol 192:92–100. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fredlund DG, Rahardjo H (1993) Soil mechanics for unsaturated soils. Int J Biol Stress. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gao K (2014) Study on the effect of temperature on soil water characteristic curve for unsaturated soils. Master’s thesis. China Three Gorges UniversityGoogle Scholar
  8. Guvanasen V, Chan T (2000) A three-dimensional numerical model for thermohydromechanical deformation with hysteresis in a fractured rock mass. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 37:89–106. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Hu R, Chen YF, Zhou CB (2011) Modeling of coupled deformation, water flow and gas transport in soil slopes subjected to rain infiltration. Sci China Technol Sci 54:2561–2575. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Jackson RAYD (1963) Temperature and soil–water diffusivity relations. Soil Sci Soc Am Proc 27:363–366CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Jibson RW (2006) The 2005 La Conchita, California, landslide. Landslides 3:73–78. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Li D, Xiao HJ, Cui J, Shan L (2005) Effect of air temperature variation on displacement field of rock slope at Geheyan hydropower station. Adv Sci Technol Water Resour 25:14–16Google Scholar
  13. Liu G, Tong FG, Xi NN, Hao S (2017) The correlation analysis of atmospheric temperature change and slope seepage (in Chinese). South-to-North Water Transf Water Sci Technol 3:158–163Google Scholar
  14. Liu G, Tong FG, Zhao YT, Tian B (2018) A force transfer mechanism for triggering landslides during rainfall infiltration. J Mt Sci 15:2480–2491. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mualem Y (1976) A new model for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated porous media. Water Resour Res 12:513–522. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. National Standards of the People’s Republic of China (1999) Industry standard of the People’s Republic of China: specification of soil test (SL237-1999). Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  17. National Standards of the People’s Republic of China (2014) Technical code for building slope engineering (GB50330-2013). China Architecture and Building Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  18. Ronan AD, Prudic DE, Thodal CE, Constantz J (1998) Field study and simulation of diurnal temperature effects on infiltration and variably saturated flow beneath an ephemeral stream. Water Resour Res. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Schulz WH, Kean JW, Wang G (2009) Landslide movement in southwest Colorado triggered by atmospheric tides. Nat Geosci 2:863–866. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sun JP, Liu QQ, Li JC, An Y (2009) Effects of rainfall infiltration on deep slope failure. Sci China Ser G 52:108–114. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sun DM, Zang YG, Semprich S (2015) Effects of airflow induced by rainfall infiltration on unsaturated soil slope stability. Transp Porous Media 107:821–841. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Tong FG (2010) Numerical modeling of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical processes in geological porous media. KTH TRITA-LWR Ph.D. thesis 1055:84Google Scholar
  23. Tong FG, Jing LR, Zimmerman RW (2010) A fully coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical model for simulating multiphase flow, deformation and heat transfer in buffer material and rock masses. Int J Rock Mech Min Sci 47:205–217. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Tong FG, Jing LR, Tian B (2012) A water retention curve model for the simulation of coupled thermo-hydro-mechanical processes in geological porous media. Transp Porous Media 91:509–530. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Uehleke H, Werner T (1975) Flow of fluids through valves, fittings, and pipe (TP-410 (US edition)). Arch Toxicol 34:289–308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. van Genuchten MT (1980) A closed-form equation for predicting the hydraulic conductivity of unsaturated soils. Soil Sci Soc Am J 44:892. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Vanapalli SK, Sillers WS, Fredlund MD (1998) The meaning and relevance of residual water content to unsaturated soils. In: Proceeding of the 51st Canadian geotechnical conference, Edmonton, Alberta, 4–7 October, pp 101–108Google Scholar
  28. Wang TH, Lu J, Yue CK (2008) Soil–water characteristic curve for unsaturated loess considering temperature and density effect. Rock Soil Mech 29:1–5Google Scholar
  29. Wang JF, Wang H, Wang Z (2010) Research of temperature effects on the suction for unsaturated subgrade soils. J Wuhan Univ Technol 32:50–53Google Scholar
  30. Wang XQ, Zou WL, Luo YD et al (2011) SWCCs and influence of temperature on matrix suction under different compaction degrees. Chin J Geotech Eng 33:368–372Google Scholar
  31. Wu Z, Song H (2015) Study on shallow geothermal field and seepage field coupling based on Lu model. J Hydraul Eng 46:326–333Google Scholar
  32. Xin JH, Gao HB, Shao MA (2009) Study of the effect of soil temperature on soil water infiltration. J Soil Water Conserv 23:217–220Google Scholar
  33. Xiong CX, Lu XB, Huang WD, Wang CH (2014) Effects of heat softening on initiation of landslides. J Mt Sci 11:1571–1578. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Zhang M, Hu RL, Tan RJ, Cui FP (2009) State-of-the-art study on landslides due to rainfall and the prospect (in Chinese). Geotech Investig Surv 37:11–17Google Scholar
  35. Zhang F, Zhang R, Kang S (2010) Estimating temperature effects on water flow in variably saturated soils using activation energy. Soil Sci Soc Am J. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zhang CL, Li P, Li TL, Zhang MS (2014) In-situ observation on rainfall infiltration in loess (in Chinese). Shuili Xuebao J Hydraul Eng. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zhu CG, Liu C, Shi B, Tang Q (2018) Numerical simulation of the influence of temperature field on slope stability. Geol J China Univ 24:122–127. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Hydraulic and Environment EngineeringChina Three Gorges UniversityYichangChina

Personalised recommendations