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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2015, Vol.14(5), p.0
    Description: We used X-ray computed microtomography to study gas trapping in a fluctuating water table. Our results show that capillary forces control trapping and phase distribution in dynamic capillary fringes. In porous media, the nonwetting phase is trapped on water saturation due to capillary forces acting in a heterogeneous porous structure. Within the capillary fringe, the gas phase is trapped and released along with the fluctuation of the water table, creating a highly active zone for biological transformations and mass transport. We conducted column experiments to observe and quantify the magnitude and structure of the trapped gas phase at the pore scale using computed microtomography. Different grain size distributions of glass beads were used to study the effect of the pore structure on trapping at various capillary numbers. Viscous forces were found to have negligible impact on phase trapping compared with capillary and buoyancy forces. Residual gas saturations ranged from 0.5 to 10%, while residual saturation increased with decreasing grain size. The gas phase was trapped by snap-off in single pores but also in pore clusters, while this single-pore trapping was dominant for grains larger than 1 mm in diameter. Gas surface area was found to increase linearly with increasing gas volume and with decreasing grain size.
    Keywords: Grain Size ; Water Table ; Mass Transport ; Buoyancy ; Pores ; Porous Media ; Particle Size ; Water Table ; Saturation ; Vadose Water ; Fluctuations ; Trapping ; Buoyancy ; Methods and Instruments ; General;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: CrossRef
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  • 2
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2011, Vol.10(2), p.654
    Description: The unsaturated hydraulic conductivity function is the dominant material property for modeling soil water dynamics. Because it is difficult to measure directly, it is often derived from the water retention characteristic combined with a geometric model of the pore space. In this study, we developed an automated, simple multistep flux (MSF) experiment to directly measure unsaturated conductivities, K(psi (sub m) ), at a number of water potentials, psi (sub m) , using the experimental setup of classical multistep outflow (MSO) experiments. In contrast to the MSO experiment, the MSF experiment measures the conductivity directly at a spatially constant water potential assuming macroscopically homogeneous materials. Additionally, the proposed method reveals the hysteresis of K(psi (sub m) ) with respect to increasing and decreasing water potentials as well as the temporal dynamics of K(psi (sub m) ) during transient-flow conditions. This temporal behavior is explained by the dynamics of fluid configurations at the pore scale during drainage and imbibition leading to hydraulic nonequilibrium. It may provoke a systematic underestimation of hydraulic conductivity using inverse optimization of K(psi (sub m) ) based on classical MSO experiments. The new approach will improve the determination of K(psi (sub m) ) and it provides an experimental tool to quantify the effects of hydraulic nonequilibrium under transient conditions.
    Keywords: Hydrogeology ; Experimental Studies ; Geometry ; Ground Water ; Hydraulic Conductivity ; Hysteresis ; Inverse Problem ; Mathematical Methods ; Measurement ; Models ; Movement ; Optimization ; Phase Equilibria ; Soils ; Unsaturated Zone;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: CrossRef
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  • 3
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2013, Vol.12(4), p.0
    Description: The hydraulic behavior of soil is determined by its hydraulic properties and their variability in space. In agricultural soils, this heterogeneity may stem from tillage or may have natural origin. The root distribution of plants will adapt to some extent to this soil heterogeneity. However, the combined impact of soil heterogeneity and root water uptake (RWU) on long-term soil water budgets has not received much attention. Numerical experiments helped identify how soil heterogeneity affects plant transpiration, soil evaporation, and groundwater recharge. Two-dimensional virtual soils with hierarchical heterogeneity, both natural and tillage induced, served as a basis for modeling soil water dynamics for a 10-yr climate record from two weather stations in Germany that vastly differ in annual precipitation. The complex interactions between soil and vegetation were explored by (i) comparing different RWU strategies (depth-, structure-, and time-dependent root profiles), (ii) land use types (perennial grass and annual winter crops), (iii) a combination of textures (silt above sand and sand above loam), and (iv) RWU with or without a compensation mechanism. The simulations were repeated with one-dimensional, effective representations of these virtual soils. In the framework of hydropedology, this study shed some light on the interaction between plants and pedological features and its impact on the macroscopic soil water budget. We demonstrated that land use has a major impact on the annual water balance through the partitioning of evapotranspiration into bare soil evaporation and plant transpiration. Compensational RWU becomes important for the annual water balance when the root zone comprises contrasting materials with respect to water holding capacity. Soil heterogeneity has in fact a minor impact on long-term soil water budgets. As a consequence, the relative contribution of plant transpiration, soil evaporation, and groundwater recharge to the total soil water loss was well reproduced by simulations in one-dimensional effective soil profiles. This advocates the application of one-dimensional soil-atmosphere-vegetation transfer (SVAT) models at larger scales. These findings only hold for assumptions made in our numerical simulations including flat area without lateral flow and no macropore flow.
    Keywords: Environmental Geology ; Soils ; Atmosphere ; Boundary Conditions ; Central Europe ; Eastern Germany ; Europe ; Field Studies ; Germany ; Grain Size ; Heterogeneity ; Hydrodynamics ; Hydrology ; Hydropedology ; Julicher Borde Germany ; Land Use ; Magdeburg Germany ; Mapping ; North Rhine-Westphalia Germany ; Numerical Models ; One-Dimensional Models ; Rhizosphere ; Saxony-Anhalt Germany ; Scale Factor ; Size Distribution ; Soil-Atmosphere-Vegetation Transfer ; Soils ; Topography ; Two-Dimensional Models ; Unsaturated Zone ; Vegetation ; Water Balance ; Western Germany;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: CrossRef
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  • 4
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2012, Vol.11(4), p.0
    Description: The hydraulic behavior of soil is determined by the spatial heterogeneity of its hydraulic properties. The interplay among parent material, pedogenesis, and tillage leads to characteristic structures in cultivated soils. Tillage-induced features like a loosely aggregated seed bed, a compacted plow pan, and soil compaction beneath tractor ruts overlay natural features such as facies and horizons. Assessing the impact of such structural components on vadose zone hydrology requires an observation scale of several meters and a resolution in the range of centimeters, which is not feasible with experimental setups. An alternative solution is the generation of synthetic but realistic structures and their hydraulic properties as a basis for modeling the hydraulic behavior in response to different boundary conditions. With such "virtual soils" at hand, comparative studies are possible that help explore the relation between soil architecture and soil function. We developed a structure generator that provides great flexibility in the design of virtual soils with nested heterogeneity. Virtual soils with increasing complexity were generated to explore scenarios of precipitation and evaporation for a period of several months. The simulations demonstrated that the structure and the hydraulic properties close to the soil surface originating from tillage clearly govern atmospheric boundary fluxes, while the impact of heterogeneity on groundwater recharge is more complex due to threshold effects, hydraulic nonequilibrium, and the interaction with atmospheric forcing. A comparison with one-dimensional, effective representations of these virtual soils demonstrated that upscaling of soil water dynamics becomes inaccurate when lateral fluxes become relevant at the scale of observation.
    Keywords: Hydrogeology ; Soils ; Agriculture ; Air ; Aquifers ; Boundary Conditions ; Ground Water ; Heterogeneity ; Hydraulic Conductivity ; Hydrodynamics ; Moisture ; Morphology ; Recharge ; Simulation ; Soil-Atmosphere Interface ; Soils ; Tillage ; Topsoil ; Unsaturated Zone ; Virtual Reality ; Water;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: CrossRef
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