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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Parameter estimation of soil hydraulic and thermal property functions for unsaturated porous media using the HYDRUS-2D code

  • Author(s): Nakhaei, M
  • Šimůnek, J
  • et al.

Knowledge of soil hydraulic and thermal properties is essential for studies involving the combined effects of soil temperature and water input on water flow and redistribution processes under field conditions. The objective of this study was to estimate the parameters characterizing these properties from a transient water flow and heat transport field experiment. Real-time sensors built by the authors were used to monitor soil temperatures at depths of 40, 80, 120, and 160 cm during a 10-hour long ring infiltration experiment. Water temperatures and cumulative infiltration from a single infiltration ring were monitored simultaneously. The soil hydraulic parameters (the saturated water content θ s, empirical shape parameters α and n, and the saturated hydraulic conductivity Ks) and soil thermal conductivity parameters (coefficients b1, b2, and b3 in the thermal conductivity function) were estimated from cumulative infiltration and temperature measurements by inversely solving a two-dimensional water flow and heat transport using HYDRUS-2D. Three scenarios with a different, sequentially decreasing number of optimized parameters were considered. In scenario 1, seven parameters (θ s, Ks, α, n, b1, b2, and b3) were included in the inverse problem. The results indicated that this scenario does not provide a unique solution. In scenario 2, six parameters (Ks, α, n, b1, b2, and b3) were included in the inverse problem. The results showed that this scenario also results in a non-unique solution. Only scenario 3, in which five parameters (α, n, b1, b2, and b3) were included in the inverse problem, provided a unique solution. The simulated soil temperatures and cumulative infiltration during the ring infiltration experiment compared reasonably well with their corresponding observed values.

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