Impacts of Salinity on Soil Hydraulic Properties and Evaporation Fluxes

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Verónica Fierro, Felipe Cristi Matte, Francisco I Suarez and Jose F. Munoz, Pontifical Catholic University of Chile, Santiago, Chile
Saline soils are common in arid zones, where evaporation from shallow groundwater is generally the main component of the water balance. Thus, to correctly manage water resources in these zones, it is important to quantify the evaporation fluxes. Evaporation from saline soils is a complex process that couples the movement of salts, heat, liquid water and water vapor, and strongly depends on the soil water content. Precipitation/dissolution reactions can change the soil structure and alter flow paths, modifying evaporation fluxes. We utilized the HYDRUS-1D model to investigate the effects of salinity on soil hydraulic properties and evaporation fluxes. HYDRUS-1D simulates the transport of liquid water, water vapor, and heat, and can incorporate precipitation/dissolution reactions of the major ions. To run the model, we determined the water retention curve for a soil with different salinities; and we used meteorological forcing from an experimental site from the Atacama Desert. It was found that higher sodium adsorption ratios in the soil increase the soil water retention capacity. Also, it was found that evaporation fluxes increase salts concentration near the soil surface, changing the soil’s water retention capacity in that zone. Finally, movement of salts causes differences in evaporation fluxes. It is thus necessary to incorporate salt precipitation/dissolution reactions and its effects on the water retention curve to correctly simulate evaporation in saline soils