Unsaturated Hydraulic Conductivity for Evaporation in Large scale Heterogeneous Soils

Friday, 19 December 2014
Dongmin Sun, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States and Jianting Zhu, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY, United States
In this study we aim to provide some practical guidelines of how the commonly used simple averaging schemes (arithmetic, geometric, or harmonic mean) perform in simulating large scale evaporation in a large scale heterogeneous landscape. Previous studies on hydraulic property upscaling focusing on steady state flux exchanges illustrated that an effective hydraulic property is usually more difficult to define for evaporation. This study focuses on upscaling hydraulic properties of large scale transient evaporation dynamics using the idea of the stream tube approach. Specifically, the two main objectives are: (1) if the three simple averaging schemes (i.e., arithmetic, geometric and harmonic means) of hydraulic parameters are appropriate in representing large scale evaporation processes, and (2) how the applicability of these simple averaging schemes depends on the time scale of evaporation processes in heterogeneous soils. Multiple realizations of local evaporation processes are carried out using HYDRUS-1D computational code (Simunek et al, 1998). The three averaging schemes of soil hydraulic parameters were used to simulate the cumulative flux exchange, which is then compared with the large scale average cumulative flux. The sensitivity of the relative errors to the time frame of evaporation processes is also discussed.