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  • Article  (13)
  • Unsaturated Zone
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  • Article  (13)
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  • 1
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2012, Vol.11(3), p.0
    Description: Recently, a new approach was introduced to directly measure unsaturated hydraulic conductivity in flux-controlled experiments--the multistep flux experiment. Thereby an overshoot in matric potential h (sub m) across drainage and infiltration fronts was observed. We extended this experimental approach to simultaneously measure the volumetric water content Theta within the sample and applied the method to a sand and a clay loam soil. The detailed trajectories within the h (sub m) -Theta space were obtained during a number of decreasing and increasing steps in infiltration rate. This clearly demonstrates the type and magnitude of hydraulic nonequilibrium under transient conditions where water content and matric potential deviate from a well-defined static relation. We also compared the directly measured hydraulic conductivities with those obtained from classical multistep outflow experiments and found that nonequilibrium dynamics might lead to an underestimation of hydraulic conductivity when obtained from an inverse solution of Richards" equation. We provide a qualitative explanation of nonequilibrium that depends on the structure of the material and the type and magnitude of external forcing. The new experimental setup is considered to be a valuable tool to actually quantify nonequilibrium effects. This will make it possible to represent this relevant phenomenon in future modeling concepts.
    Keywords: Hydrogeology ; Aquifers ; Climate Forcing ; Discharge ; Drainage ; Experimental Studies ; Ground Water ; Hydraulic Conductivity ; Hydrodynamics ; Hysteresis ; Infiltration ; Models ; Richards Equation ; Saturation ; Soil Mechanics ; Solute Transport ; Transport ; Unsaturated Zone;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: CrossRef
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  • 2
    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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  • 3
    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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  • 4
    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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  • 5
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2013, Vol.12(3), p.0
    Description: Soils are structured on multiple spatial scales, originating from inhomogeneities of the parent material, pedogenesis, soil organisms, plant roots, or tillage. This leads to heterogeneities that cause variability of local measurements of hydraulic state variables and affects the flow behavior of water in soil. Whereas in real-world systems, the true underlying structures can never be absolutely known, it is appealing to employ synthetic or "virtual" experiments for assessing general properties of flow in porous media and grasping the main physical mechanisms. With this aim, three two-dimensional virtual realities with increasing structural complexity, representing cultivated soils with hierarchical spatial heterogeneity on multiple scales were constructed by the interdisciplinary research group Virtual Institute of the Helmholtz Association (INVEST). At these systems, numerical simulations of water dynamics including a heavy rain, a redistribution, and a long-lasting evaporation period were performed. The technical aspects of the construction of the virtual soils and results of the forward simulations have been presented in a paper by Schluter et al. (2012). In this follow-up paper, we use inverse modeling to investigate measurements in virtual vertical soil profiles, mimicking typical field monitoring campaigns with moisture content and matric potential sensors placed at five depths. Contrary to the real situation, we can interpret observed data, their variability, estimated hydraulic properties, and predicted water balance in the light of the known truth. Our results showed that measurements, particularly those of water contents, varied strongly with measuring position. Using data from single profiles in systems similar to our virtual soils thus will lead to very different estimates of the soil hydraulic properties. As a consequence, the correct calculation of the water balance is rather a lucky coincidence than the rule. However, the average of the predicted water balances obtained from the one-dimensional simulations, and the estimated soil hydraulic properties agreed very well with those attained from the two-dimensional systems.
    Keywords: Soils ; Hydrogeology ; Boundary Interactions ; Evaporation ; Grain Size ; Heterogeneous Materials ; Hydrodynamics ; Infiltration ; Interpretation ; Inverse Problem ; Irrigation ; Matric Head ; Measurement ; Moisture ; One-Dimensional Models ; Quantitative Analysis ; Simulation ; Size Distribution ; Soils ; Spatial Distribution ; Tdr Data ; Two-Dimensional Models ; Unsaturated Zone ; Van Genuchten-Mualem Parameters ; Water ; Water Balance;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: CrossRef
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  • 6
    Language: English
    In: Geoderma, 01 September 2018, Vol.325, pp.37-48
    Description: Organic particles including microorganisms are a significant fraction of the mobile organic matter (MOM) pool that contributes to initial pedogenesis. Still, the dynamics and the interplay of the multitude of processes that control the mobilization, transport, and retention of MOM are vastly unclear. We studied this interplay using an ‘artificial soil’ as model for a young, unstructured soil with defined initial composition employing a novel two-layer column experiment. The upstream layer was composed of a mixture of well-defined mineral phases, a sterile organic matter source and a diverse, natural microbial inoculant mimicking an organic-rich topsoil. The downstream layer, mimicking the subsoil, was composed of the mineral phases, only. Columns were run under water-unsaturated flow conditions with multiple flow interruptions to reflect natural flow regimes and to detect possible non-equilibrium processes. Pore system changes caused by flow were inspected by scanning electron microscopy and computed micro-tomography. MOM-related physicochemical effluent parameters and bacterial community diversity and abundance were assessed by molecular analysis of the effluent and the solid phase obtained after the long-term irrigation experiment (75 d). Tomographic data showed homogeneous packing of the fine-grained media (sandy loam). During flow, the initially single-grain structured artificial soil showed no connected macropores. In total, 6% of the initial top layer organic matter was mobile. The release and transport of particulate (1.2%) and dissolved organic matter (4.8%) including bacteria were controlled by non-equilibrium conditions. Bacterial cells were released and selectively transported to downstream layer resulting in a depth-dependent and selective establishment of bacterial communities in the previously sterile artificial soil. This study underlines the importance of bacterial transport from the surface or topsoil for colonization and maturation of downstream compartments. This initial colonization of pristine surfaces is the major step in forming biogeochemical interfaces - the prominent locations of intensive biological activity and element turnover that seem to play a major role for the functioning of soil.
    Keywords: Mobile Organic Matter ; Unsaturated Two-Layer Column Experiment ; Experimental Pedogenesis ; Artificial Soil ; Computed Micro-Tomography ; Molecular Analysis ; Agriculture
    ISSN: 0016-7061
    E-ISSN: 1872-6259
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  • 7
    Language: English
    In: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, December 2016, Vol.195, pp.31-39
    Description: Engineered nanoparticles released into soils may be coated with humic substances, potentially modifying their surface properties. Due to their amphiphilic nature, humic coating is expected to affect interaction of nanoparticle at the air-water interface. In this study, we explored the roles of the air-water interface and solid-water interface as potential sites for nanoparticle attachment and the importance of hydrophobic interactions for nanoparticle attachment at the air-water interface. By exposing Ag nanoparticles to soil solution extracted from the upper soil horizon of a floodplain soil, the mobility of the resulting “soil-aged” Ag nanoparticles was investigated and compared with the mobility of citrate-coated Ag nanoparticles as investigated in an earlier study. The mobility was determined as a function of hydrologic conditions and solution chemistry using column breakthrough curves and numerical modeling. Specifically, we compared the mobility of both types of nanoparticles for different unsaturated flow conditions and for pH = 5 and pH = 9. The soil-aged Ag NP were less mobile at pH = 5 than at pH = 9 due to lower electrostatic repulsion at pH = 5 for both types of interfaces. Moreover, the physical flow field at different water contents modified the impact of chemical forces at the solid-water interface. An extended Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (eDLVO) model did not provide satisfactory explanation of the observed transport phenomena unlike for the citrate-coated case. For instance, the eDLVO model assuming sphere-plate geometry predicts a high energy barrier (〉 90 ) for the solid-water interface, indicating that nanoparticle attachment is less likely. Furthermore, retardation through reversible sorption at the air-water interface was probably less relevant for soil-aged nanoparticles than for citrate-coated nanoparticles. An additional cation bridging mechanism and straining within the flow field may have enhanced nanoparticle retention at the solid-water interface. The results indicate that the mobility of engineered Ag nanoparticles is sensitive to solution chemistry, especially pH and the concentration of multivalent cations, and to the unsaturated flow conditions influencing particle interaction at biogeochemical interfaces.
    Keywords: Unsaturated Transport ; Water Dynamics ; Cation Bridging ; Amphiphilic ; Edlvo ; Engineering ; Environmental Sciences ; Geography
    ISSN: 0169-7722
    E-ISSN: 1873-6009
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  • 8
    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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  • 9
    Language: English
    In: Vadose Zone Journal, 2011, Vol.10(3), p.988
    Description: Recent studies have shown that rhizosphere hydraulic properties may differ from those of the bulk soil. Specifically, mucilage at the root-soil interface may increase the rhizosphere water holding capacity and hydraulic conductivity during drying. The goal of this study was to point out the implications of such altered rhizosphere hydraulic properties for soil-plant water relations. We addressed this problem through modeling based on a steady-rate approach. We calculated the water flow toward a single root assuming that the rhizosphere and bulk soil were two concentric cylinders having different hydraulic properties. Based on our previous experimental results, we assumed that the rhizosphere had higher water holding capacity and unsaturated conductivity than the bulk soil. The results showed that the water potential gradients in the rhizosphere were much smaller than in the bulk soil. The consequence is that the rhizosphere attenuated and delayed the drop in water potential in the vicinity of the root surface when the soil dried. This led to increased water availability to plants, as well as to higher effective conductivity under unsaturated conditions. The reasons were two: (i) thanks to the high unsaturated conductivity of the rhizosphere, the radius of water uptake was extended from the root to the rhizosphere surface; and (ii) thanks to the high soil water capacity of the rhizosphere, the water depletion in the bulk soil was compensated by water depletion in the rhizosphere. We conclude that under the assumed conditions, the rhizosphere works as an optimal hydraulic conductor and as a reservoir of water that can be taken up when water in the bulk soil becomes limiting.
    Keywords: Agriculture;
    ISSN: Vadose Zone Journal
    E-ISSN: 1539-1663
    Source: CrossRef
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  • 10
    In: Water Resources Research, March 2007, Vol.43(3), pp.n/a-n/a
    Description: Large‐scale models of transient flow processes in the unsaturated zone require, in general, upscaling of the flow problem in order to capture the impact of heterogeneities on a small scale, which cannot be resolved by the model. Effective parameters for the upscaled models are often derived from second‐order stochastic properties of the parameter fields. Such properties are good quantifications for parameter fields, which are multi‐Gaussian. However, the structure of soil does rarely resemble these kinds of fields. The non‐multi‐Gaussian field properties can lead to strong discrepancies between predictions of upscaled models and the averaged real flow process. In particular, the connected paths of parameter ranges of the medium are important features, which are usually not taken into account in stochastic approaches. They are determined here by the Euler number of one‐cut indicator fields. Methods to predict effective parameters are needed that incorporate this type of information. We discuss different simple and fast approaches for estimating the effective parameter for upscaled models of slow transient flow processes in the unsaturated zone, where connected paths of the material may be taken into account. Upscaled models are derived with the assumption of capillary equilibrium. The effective parameters are calculated using effective media approaches. We also discuss the limits of the applicability of these methods.
    Keywords: Richards Equation ; Unsaturated Flow ; Upscaling
    ISSN: 0043-1397
    E-ISSN: 1944-7973
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