Many software packages for numerical computations allow users to use a static adaptive (hereby referred to as adaptive) step in the construction of an orthogonal hexahedral structured computational mesh. This means that informed users can employ their experience to get a more accurate computation without significantly increasing the computation time by specifying the areas of the computational domain in which, in their opinion, it is necessary to apply more detailed partitioning (use a smaller spatial step) as compared to the rest of the computational domain.
When properly used, adaptive partitioning of the computational domain is a powerful tool in numerical computations to increase accuracy. However, when the above option is overused, the computational time can increase dramatically without necessarily altering the accuracy of the computation to any significant degree. In this article, we describe the theoretical advantages and disadvantages of using adaptive partitioning of the computational domain, and also give two examples for numerical computations of thermal fields in soils. In the first example, application of the adaptive step is appropriate; this is not the case, however, in the second.