Improved Rosetta Pedotransfer Estimation of Hydraulic Properties and Their Covariance

Friday, 19 December 2014
Yonggen Zhang and Marcel G Schaap, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, United States
Quantitative knowledge of the soil hydraulic properties is necessary for most studies involving water flow and solute transport in the vadose zone. However, it is always expensive, difficult, and time consuming to measure hydraulic properties directly. Pedotransfer functions (PTFs) have been widely used to forecast soil hydraulic parameters. Rosetta is is one of many PTFs and based on artificial neural network analysis coupled with the bootstrap sampling method. The model provides hierarchical PTFs for different levels of input data for Rosetta (H1-H5 models, with higher order models requiring more input variables). The original Rosetta model consists of separate PTFs for the four “van Genuchten” (VG) water retention parameters and saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) because different numbers of samples were available for these characteristics. In this study, we present an improved Rosetta pedotransfer function that uses a single model for all five parameters combined; these parameters are weighed for each sample individually using the covariance matrix obtained from the curve-fit of the VG parameters to the primary data. The optimal number of hidden nodes, weights for saturated hydraulic conductivity and water retention parameters in the neural network and bootstrap realization were selected. Results show that root mean square error (RMSE) for water retention decreased from 0.076 to 0.072 cm3/cm3 for the H2 model and decreased from 0.044 to 0.039 cm3/cm3 for the H5 model. Mean errors which indicate variable matric potential-dependent bias were also reduced significantly in the new model. The RMSE for Ks increased slightly (H2: 0.717 to 0.722; H5: 0.581 to 0.594); this increase is minimal and a result of using a single model for water retention and Ks. Despite this small increase the new model is recommended because of its improved estimation of water retention, and because it is now possible to calculate the full covariance matrix of soil water retention parameters and saturated hydraulic conductivity together in one neural network model, which will be useful in stochastic modeling and risk-based analysis.