• A High-Resolution Global Map of Soil Hydraulic Properties Produced by a Hierarchical Parameterization of a Physically Based Water Retention Model

      Zhang, Yonggen; Schaap, Marcel G.; Zha, Yuanyuan; Univ Arizona, Dept Soil Water & Environm Sci (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2018-12)
      A correct quantification of mass and energy exchange processes among Earth's land surface, groundwater, and atmosphere requires an accurate parameterization of soil hydraulic properties. Pedotransfer functions (PTFs) are useful in this regard because they estimate these otherwise difficult to obtain characteristics using texture and other ubiquitous soil data. Most PTFs estimate parameters of empirical hydraulic functions with modest accuracy. In a continued pursuit of improving global-scale PTF estimates, we evaluated whether improvements can be obtained when estimating parameters of hydraulic functions that make physically based assumptions. To this end, we developed a PTF that estimates the parameters of the Kosugi retention and hydraulic conductivity functions (Kosugi, 1994, , 1996, ), which explicitly assume a lognormal pore size distribution and apply the Young-Laplace equation to derive a corresponding pressure head distribution. Using a previously developed combination of machine learning and bootstrapping, the developed five hierarchical PTFs allow for estimates under practical data-poor to data-rich conditions. Using an independent global data set containing nearly 50,000 samples (118,000 retention points), we demonstrated that the new Kosugi-based PTFs outperformed two van Genuchten-based PTFs calibrated on the same data. The new PTFs were applied to a 1x1km(2) global map of texture and bulk density, thus producing maps of the parameters, field capacity, wilting point, plant available water, and associated uncertainties. Soil hydraulic parameters exhibit a much larger variability in the Northern Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere, which is likely due to the geographical distribution of climate zones that affect weathering and sedimentation processes.
    • Inverse modeling of unsaturated flow using clusters of soil texture and pedotransfer functions

      Zhang, Yonggen; Schaap, Marcel G.; Guadagnini, Alberto; Neuman, Shlomo P.; Univ Arizona, Dept Hydrol & Atmospher Sci; Univ Arizona, Dept Soil Water & Environm Sc; Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences; University of Arizona; Tucson Arizona USA; Department of Soil, Water and Environmental Science; University of Arizona; Tucson Arizona USA; Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences; University of Arizona; Tucson Arizona USA; Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences; University of Arizona; Tucson Arizona USA (AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, 2016-10)
      Characterization of heterogeneous soil hydraulic parameters of deep vadose zones is often difficult and expensive, making it necessary to rely on other sources of information. Pedotransfer functions (PTFs) based on soil texture data constitute a simple alternative to inverse hydraulic parameter estimation, but their accuracy is often modest. Inverse modeling entails a compromise between detailed description of subsurface heterogeneity and the need to restrict the number of parameters. We propose two methods of parameterizing vadose zone hydraulic properties using a combination of k-means clustering of kriged soil texture data, PTFs, and model inversion. One approach entails homogeneous and the other heterogeneous clusters. Clusters may include subdomains of the computational grid that need not be contiguous in space. The first approach homogenizes within-cluster variability into initial hydraulic parameter estimates that are subsequently optimized by inversion. The second approach maintains heterogeneity through multiplication of each spatially varying initial hydraulic parameter by a scale factor, estimated a posteriori through inversion. This allows preserving heterogeneity without introducing a large number of adjustable parameters. We use each approach to simulate a 95 day infiltration experiment in unsaturated layered sediments at a semiarid site near Phoenix, Arizona, over an area of 50 x 50 m(2) down to a depth of 14.5 m. Results show that both clustering approaches improve simulated moisture contents considerably in comparison to those based solely on PTF estimates. Our calibrated models are validated against data from a subsequent 295 day infiltration experiment at the site.