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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Parameter Estimation Analysis of the Evaporation Method for Determining Soil Hydraulic Properties


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 62 No. 4, p. 894-905
    Received: Aug 15, 1997

    * Corresponding author(s): JSimunek@ussl.ars.usda.gov
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  1. Jiří Šimůnek ,
  2. Martinus Th. van Genuchten and
  3. Ole Wendroth
  1. U.S. Salinity Lab., USDA-ARS, 450 West Big Springs Road, Riverside, CA 92507-4617
    Inst. for Soil Landscape Research, ZALF, Eberswalder Str. 84, D-15374 Müncheberg, Germany



Soil hydraulic properties are important parameters affecting water flow in variably saturated soils. We estimated the hydraulic properties from a laboratory evaporation experiment using both a parameter estimation method and the modified Wind method. The parameter estimation method combined a one-dimensional numerical solution of the Richards equation with the Marquardt-Levenberg optimization scheme. In our study we used both numerically generated data and data measured in the laboratory. Two experiments were carried out on 10-cm-high soil cores containing two different soils. Pressure heads inside the cores were measured with five tensiometers, while evaporative water loss from the top was determined by weighing the soil samples. The objective function for the parameter estimation analysis was defined in terms of the final total water volume in the core and pressure head readings by one or several tensiometers. An analysis of numerically generated data showed that the optimization method was most sensitive to the shape factor (n) and the saturated water content (θs) and least to the residual water content (θr). Pressure heads measured close to the soil surface were found to be more valuable for the parameter estimation technique than those measured at lower locations. The optimized hydraulic parameters corresponded closely with those obtained using Wind's analysis. All optimizations gave similar results for the soil hydraulic properties within the range of measured pressure heads (0 to −700cm). Extrapolation beyond this range involved a high level of uncertainty because of high correlation between parameters θr and n.

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