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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Environmental Microbial & Food Safety Laboratory

Title: Using passive capillary lysimeter water flux measurements to improve flow predictions in variably saturated soils.

item Pachepsky, Yakov
item Guber, Andrey
item Diederik, Jacques
item Van Genuchten, Martinus
item Cady, Ralph
item Nicholson, Thomas

Submitted to: ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/13/2011
Publication Date: 10/14/2011
Citation: Pachepsky, Y.A., Guber, A.K., Diederik, J., Van Genuchten, M., Cady, R., Nicholson, T. 2011. Using passive capillary lysimeter water flux measurements to improve flow predictions in variably saturated soils.[abstract] ASA-CSSA-SSSA Annual Meeting Abstracts. Paper No. 67149.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Passive capillary lysimeters (PCLs) are uniquely suited for measuring water fluxes in variably-saturated soils. The objective of this work was to compare PCL flux measurements with simulated fluxes obtained with a calibrated unsaturated flow model. The Richards equation-based model was calibrated using TDR data from a loamy soil profile involving 12 replicates along transects at five different depths. The fluxes themselves were measured at depths of 15 and 55 cm, and were estimated at the depth of 105 cm using the soil storage dynamics. Annual cumulative fluxes were used for the comparative analysis. Large discrepancies were found between simulated and measured fluxes. In an attempt to explain these discrepancies, the fluxes were also computed using a simpler, multiple bucket-type, soil-water model (MWBUS) which was calibrated with the same soil water monitoring data. PCL measurements and the MWBUS-simulated results were in a very good agreement. Further analyses showed that improvements in the fit of the multiparametric Richards model was achieved by introducing water losses to runoff, whereas no runoff was observed in the experiment. The simulated loss of water to runoff apparently distorted simulated fluxes in the soil profile. This study demonstrated that PCL flux measurements can be extremely useful for improving modeling of variably saturated flow in soils.

Last Modified: 10/16/2017
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