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A Simple Modelling Framework for Shallow Subsurface Water Storage and Flow

1
School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UF, UK
2
State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
3
School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK
4
Department of Environment and Geography, University of York, York YO10 5NG, UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(8), 1725; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11081725
Received: 9 July 2019 / Revised: 8 August 2019 / Accepted: 14 August 2019 / Published: 19 August 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Hydrology)
Water storage and flow in shallow subsurface drives runoff generation, vegetation water use and nutrient cycling. Modelling these processes under non-steady state conditions is challenging, particularly in regions like the subtropics that experience extreme wet and dry periods. At the catchment-scale, physically-based equations (e.g., Richards equation) are impractical due to their complexity, while conceptual models typically rely on steady state assumptions not found in daily hydrological dynamics. We addressed this by developing a simple modelling framework for shallow subsurface water dynamics based on physical relationships and a proxy parameter for the fluxes induced by non-unit hydraulic gradients. We demonstrate its applicability for six generic soil textures and for an Acrisol in subtropical China. Results showed that our new approach represents top soil daily fluxes and storage better than, and as fast as, standard conceptual approaches. Moreover, it was less complex and up to two orders of magnitude faster than simulating Richards equation, making it easy to include in existing hydrological models. View Full-Text
Keywords: hydrological modelling; soil water content; soil water fluxes; vadose zone; non-unit hydraulic gradient; transient state hydrological modelling; soil water content; soil water fluxes; vadose zone; non-unit hydraulic gradient; transient state
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MDPI and ACS Style

Verrot, L.; Geris, J.; Gao, L.; Peng, X.; Oyesiku-Blakemore, J.; Smith, J.U.; Hodson, M.E.; Zhang, G.; Hallett, P.D. A Simple Modelling Framework for Shallow Subsurface Water Storage and Flow. Water 2019, 11, 1725.

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