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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - SOIL PHYSICS

Correlation between Air Permeability and Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity: Unburned and Burned Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 72 No. 6, p. 1501-1509
    Received: Dec 1, 2006

    * Corresponding author(s): karletta.chief@dri.edu
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  1. Karletta Chief *a,
  2. Ty P. A. Ferréb and
  3. Bart Nijssenbc
  1. a Desert Research Institute, 755 E. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89119
    b Dep. of Hydrology and Water Resources, Univ. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721-0011
    c Currently at 3TIER Environmental Forecast Group, Inc., 2001 Sixth Ave., Suite 2100, Seattle, WA 98121


Prior research has shown a log–log correlation between ex situ air permeability (k a) measured at a matric potential of −50 and −100 cm H2O and saturated hydraulic conductivity (K sat) in agricultural soils. We examined the applicability of a previously established log k a vs. log K sat predictive relation in unburned and burned woodland–chaparral and coniferous soils. Specifically, we measured in situ k a in the field using the soil corer air permeameter (SCAP) and measured laboratory K sat on soil cores. To determine postfire soil physical changes, Ks at was transformed into water permeability, k w Then k a and k w were compared in unburned and burned soils. The median k a was lower and median k w was higher in burned than unburned woodland–chaparral soils. The median k a and k w were both lower in burned than unburned coniferous soils. Despite these effects, the 95% prediction interval of the predictive relation includes 80% of the burned soils and 83% of all desert soils. The RMSE values of the predicted log K sat and measured log K sat were 0.371, 0.552, 0.588, and 0.511 m d−1 for unburned and burned woodland–chaparral and unburned and burned coniferous soils, respectively. In comparison, the RMSE for the predicted and measured log K sat was 0.654 m d−1 for an agricultural data set. The overall RMSE for unburned and burned soils including the agricultural soils was 0.551 m d−1 This suggests that the predictive relation is applicable for unburned and burned desert soils for in situ k a measurements.

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