The aim of the research was to evaluate, at site scale, the influence of freezing and freeze/thaw cycles on the survival of faecal coliforms and faecal enterococci in soil, in a climate change perspective. Before the winter period and during grazing, viable cells of faecal coliforms and faecal enterococci were detected only in the first 10 cm below ground, while, after the winter period and before the new seasonal grazing, a lower number of viable cells of both faecal indicators was detected only in some of the investigated soil profiles, and within the first 5 cm. Taking into consideration the results of specific investigations, we hypothesise that the non-uniform spatial distribution of grass roots within the studied soil can play an important role in influencing this phenomenon, while several abiotic factors do not play any significant role. Taking into account the local trend in the increase of air temperature, a different distribution of microbial pollution over time is expected in spring waters, in future climate scenarios. The progressive increase in air temperature will cause a progressive decrease in freeze/thaw cycles at higher altitudes, minimising cold shocks on microbial cells, and causing spring water pollution also during winter.
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