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A New Mitigation Structure Assists in Protecting Permafrost Subgrade of Tibet Plateau



In recent decades, climate warming on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) can accelerate permafrost warming and has caused permafrost degradation, which leads to the decrease of bearing capacity of the permafrost foundation. 

A crushed-rock revetment (CRR) with high permeability that can be paved on embankment slopes is widely used to cool and protect the subgrade permafrost. However, traditional CRR over warm permafrost is facing problems that affect its long-term effective cooling performances. 

Recently, a research team from Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources (NIEER) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) designed a new mitigation structure (NMS) to improve the cooling capacity of the CRR and to counter the pore-filling of the rock layer. 

The researchers firstly investigated the cooling characteristics of a selected CRR embankment in a warm permafrost zone based on the ground temperature observed from 2004 to 2014. 

Then they developed a coupled heat transfer model and conducted series of numerical simulations to evaluate the cooling effect and reinforcing performance of the new structure considering climate warming. 

Besides, the new structure can also protect the rock layer on the slopes from sand-filling. The NMS can be used as an effective method for roadbed design or maintenance over warm permafrost. 

It is hoped that this study could improve the utilization of cold energy in cold regions and provide guidance for the design and maintenance of embankment traversed warm or thaw sensitive permafrost zones. 

The study was published in Advances in Materials Science and Engineering. 



LIU Minghao


State Key Laboratory of Frozen Soil Engineering, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou 730000, China.


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