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Water Resources Research




Soil bulk density (ρb) variations influence soil hydraulic properties, such as the water retention curve (WRC), but they are usually ignored in soil-water simulation models. We extend the van Genuchten WRC model parameters to account for ρb variations using a series of empirical expressions. WRC measurements made on eight soils with various ρb and textures are used to calibrate these ρb–related empirical equations. Accordingly, two approaches are developed to estimate WRCs of soils at various ρb. Another eight soils with a wide range of ρb and textures are used to evaluate the accuracy of the new approaches. Approach 1 estimates WRCs for each soil at various ρb using a WRC measurement made at a reference ρb and the soil texture fractions. This approach gives reasonable WRC estimates for the eight validation soils, with an average root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.025 m3 m-3 and an average determination coefficient (R2) of 0.94. For Approach 2, a WRC measurement made at a reference ρb and one additional water content-matric potential value measured at a different ρb value are used, which produces WRC estimates with an average RMSE of 0.017 m3 m-3 and an average R2 of 0.97. The methodology used in Approach 2 is also applied to the Brooks and Corey WRC model to obtain accurate and precise WRC estimates. The proposed approaches have the potential to be incorporated into simulation models for estimating soil hydraulic properties that are affected by transient and variable ρb.


This is a manucript of an article published as Tian, Zhengchao, Weida Gao, Dilia Kool, Tusheng Ren, Robert Horton, and Joshua L. Heitman. "Approaches for estimating soil water retention curves at various bulk densities with the extended van Genuchten model." Water Resources Research (2018). doi: 10.1029/2018WR022871. Posted with permission.

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American Geophysical Union



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