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Appl. Sci. 2017, 7(10), 975; doi:10.3390/app7100975

Assessing the Performance of Thermal Inertia and Hydrus Models to Estimate Surface Soil Water Content

1
Dipartimento Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Forestali, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze Bld. 4, 90128 Palermo, Italy
2
Department of Geoscience (Earth Sciences), University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada
3
Dipartimento Ingegneria Civile, Ambientale, Aerospaziale e dei Materiali, Università degli Studi di Palermo, Viale delle Scienze Bld. 8, 90128 Palermo, Italy
4
Dipartimento Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari e Agro-Ambientali, Università di Pisa, Via del Borghetto 80, 56124 Pisa, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 18 August 2017 / Revised: 15 September 2017 / Accepted: 19 September 2017 / Published: 22 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Computer Science and Electrical Engineering)
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Abstract

The knowledge of soil water content (SWC) dynamics in the upper soil layer is important for several hydrological processes. Due to the difficulty of assessing the spatial and temporal SWC dynamics in the field, some model-based approaches have been proposed during the last decade. The main objective of this work was to assess the performance of two approaches to estimate SWC in the upper soil layer under field conditions: the physically-based thermal inertia and the Hydrus model. Their validity was firstly assessed under controlled laboratory conditions. Thermal inertia was firstly validated in laboratory conditions using the transient line heat source (TLHS) method. Then, it was applied in situ to analyze the dynamics of soil thermal properties under two extreme conditions of soil-water status (well-watered and air-dry), using proximity remote-sensed data. The model performance was assessed using sensor-based measurements of soil water content acquired through frequency (FDR) and time domain reflectometry (TDR). During the laboratory experiment, the Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) was 0.02 m3 m−3 for the Hydrus model and 0.05 m3 m−3 for the TLHS model approach. On the other hand, during the in situ experiment, the temporal variability of SWCs simulated by the Hydrus model and the corresponding values measured by the TDR method evidenced good agreement (RMSE ranging between 0.01 and 0.005 m3 m−3). Similarly, the average of the SWCs derived from the thermal diffusion model was fairly close to those estimated by Hydrus (spatially averaged RMSE ranging between 0.03 and 0.02 m3 m−3). View Full-Text
Keywords: soil water content; soil thermal inertia; Hydrus numerical model; sparse vegetation soil water content; soil thermal inertia; Hydrus numerical model; sparse vegetation
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Negm, A.; Capodici, F.; Ciraolo, G.; Maltese, A.; Provenzano, G.; Rallo, G. Assessing the Performance of Thermal Inertia and Hydrus Models to Estimate Surface Soil Water Content. Appl. Sci. 2017, 7, 975.

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