701-0535-00L  Environmental Soil Physics/Vadose Zone Hydrology

SemesterAutumn Semester 2021
LecturersA. Carminati, P. U. Lehmann Grunder
Periodicityyearly recurring course
Language of instructionEnglish

AbstractThe course provides theoretical and practical foundations for understanding and characterizing physical and transport properties of soils/ near-surface earth materials, and quantifying hydrological processes and fluxes of mass and energy at multiple scales.
ObjectiveStudents are able to
- characterize porous media at different scales
- parameterize structural, flow and transport properties of partially-saturated porous media
- quantify driving forces and resulting fluxes of water, solute, and heat in soils
ContentWeek 1: Introduction, soil and vadose zone, units and dimensions, definitions and basic mass-volume relationships between the solid, liquid and gaseous phases; soil water content; soil texture; particle size distributions;

Week 2: Pore scale consideration, pore sizes, shapes and connectivity, coordination number, continuity and percolation, surface area, soil structure

Week 3: Capillarity – capillary rise, surface tension, Young-Laplace equation; Washburn equation; numerical lab

Week 4: Soil Water Potential - the energy state of soil water; total water potential and its components; properties of water (molecular, surface tension, and capillary rise); units and calculations and measurement of equilibrium soil water potential components

Week 5: Soil water characteristics - definitions and measurements; parametric models, fitting and interpretation, hysteresis; demo lab

Week 6: Saturated water flow in soils - laminar flow in tubes (Poiseuille's Law); Darcy's Law, conditions and states of flow; permeability and hydraulic conductivity, measurement and theoretical concepts (Kozeny-Carman)

Week 7: Unsaturated water flow in soils - unsaturated hydraulic conductivity models and applications; Richards equation, approximations of Richards equation for steady state; approximate solutions to infiltration (Green-Ampt, Philip); outlook on unstable and preferential flow

Week 8: Numerical solution of Richards equation – using Hydrus1D for simulation of unsaturated flow; choosing class project

Week 9: Energy balance and land atmosphere interactions - radiation and energy balance; evapotranspiration, definitions and estimation; evaporation stages and characteristic length; soil thermal properties; steady state heat flow; non-steady heat flow

Week 10: Root water uptake and transpiration

Week 11: Solute and gas transport in soils; transport mechanisms of solutes in porous media; breakthrough curves; convection-dispersion equation; solutions for pulse and step solute application; parameter estimation; salt balance.

Week 12: Summary of lectures; solution of old exam

Week 13: Written semester-end exam

Week 14: Short presentations of Hydrus class projects; discussion of written exam
LiteratureSupplemental textbook (not mandatory) -Introduction to Environmental Soil Physics, by: D. Hillel