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Review on airflow in unsaturated zones induced by natural forcings

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Abstract

[1] Subsurface airflow in unsaturated zones induced by natural forcings is of importance in many environmental and engineering fields, such as environmental remediation, water infiltration and groundwater recharge, coastal soil aeration, mine and tunnel ventilation, and gas exchange between soil and atmosphere. This review synthesizes the published literature on subsurface airflow driven by natural forcings such as atmospheric pressure fluctuations, topographic effect, water table fluctuations, and water infiltration. The present state of knowledge concerning the mechanisms, analytical and numerical models, and environmental and engineering applications related to the naturally occurring airflow is discussed. Airflow induced by atmospheric pressure fluctuations is studied the most because of the applications to environmental remediation and transport of trace gases from soil to atmosphere, which are very important in understanding biogeochemical cycling and global change. Airflow induced by infiltration is also an extensively investigated topic because of its implications in rainfall infiltration and groundwater recharge. Airflow induced by water table fluctuations is important in coastal areas because it plays an important role in coastal environmental remediation and ecological systems. Airflow induced by topographic effect is studied the least. However, it has important applications in unsaturated zone gas transport and natural ventilation of mines and tunnels. Finally, the similarities and differences in the characteristics of the air pressure and airflow are compared and future research efforts are recommended.

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