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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Air Encapsulation: II. Profile Water Storage and Shallow Water Table Fluctuations1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 50 No. 3, p. 572-577
    Received: May 10, 1985

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  1. M. J. Fayer and
  2. D. Hillel2



In a wet soil, volumetric encapsulated air contents can easily approach 0.06 m3 m−3. The objective of this study was to determine, through simulation, the effect of air encapsulation on profile water storage and shallow water table fluctuations and whether air encapsulation should be considered in modeling field events. Using a two-dimensional soil moisture code that included a routine designed to model air encapsulation, we simulated profile water storage changes during hypothetical rainfall events and water table responses during actual rainfall events. The simulation results indicated that, following the infiltration of 10 mm of water, profile moisture content differences with and without air encapsulation would be <0.01 m3 m−3 and thus may not be measurable in the field with a neutron probe. Water table levels, however, rose significantly higher in the profile when air was encapsulated. Depending on the initial depth of the water table and the moisture characteristic, the water table rises were two to five times those when air was not encapsulated. For water tables located within 1.3 m of the surface, application of the model to actual rainfall events improved the fit to the measured water table data. In those situations where water table level predictions are important (e.g., wetlands, stream banks), researchers should consider air encapsulation in their analysis of water table fluctuations.

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