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Concepts and dimensionality in modeling unsaturated water flow and solute transport

van Dam, J. C., De Rooij, Gerrit, Heinen, M. and Stagnitti, Frank 2004, Concepts and dimensionality in modeling unsaturated water flow and solute transport. In Feddes, R., de Rooij, G. and van Dam, J. (ed), Unsaturated-zone modeling : progress, challenges and applications, Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht, Netherlands, pp.1-36.

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Title Concepts and dimensionality in modeling unsaturated water flow and solute transport
Author(s) van Dam, J. C.
De Rooij, Gerrit
Heinen, M.
Stagnitti, Frank
Title of book Unsaturated-zone modeling : progress, challenges and applications
Editor(s) Feddes, R.
de Rooij, G.
van Dam, J.
Publication date 2004
Series Wageningen UR frontis series ; v. 6
Chapter number 1
Total chapters 11
Start page 1
End page 36
Total pages 36
Publisher Kluwer Academic
Place of Publication Dordrecht, Netherlands
Keyword(s) Vadose zone
Richards’ equation
unstable wetting fronts
random walk
model coupling
Summary Many environmental studies require accurate simulation of water and solute fluxes in the unsaturated zone. This paper evaluates one- and multi-dimensional approaches for soil water flow as well as different spreading mechanisms to model solute behavior at different scales. For quantification of soil water fluxes,Richards equation has become the standard. Although current numerical codes show perfect water balances, the calculated soil water fluxes in case of head boundary conditions may depend largely on the method used for spatial averaging of the hydraulic conductivity. Atmospheric boundary conditions, especially in the case of phreatic groundwater levels fluctuating above and below a soil surface, require sophisticated solutions to ensure convergence. Concepts for flow in soils with macro pores and unstable wetting fronts are still in development. One-dimensional flow models are formulated to work with lumped parameters in order to account for the soil heterogeneity and preferential flow. They can be used at temporal and spatial scales that are of interest to water managers and policymakers. Multi-dimensional flow models are hampered by data and computation requirements.Their main strength is detailed analysis of typical multi-dimensional flow problems, including soil heterogeneity and preferential flow. Three physically based solute-transport concepts have been proposed to describe solute spreading during unsaturated flow: The stochastic-convective model (SCM), the convection-dispersion equation (CDE), and the fraction aladvection-dispersion equation (FADE). A less physical concept is the continuous-time random-walk process (CTRW). Of these, the SCM and the CDE are well established, and their strengths and weaknesses are identified. The FADE and the CTRW are more recent,and only a tentative strength weakness opportunity threat (SWOT)analysis can be presented at this time. We discuss the effect of the number of dimensions in a numerical model and the spacing between model nodes on solute spreading and the values of the solute-spreading parameters. In order to meet the increasing complexity of environmental problems, two approaches of model combination are used: Model integration and model coupling. Amain drawback of model integration is the complexity of there sulting code. Model coupling requires a systematic physical domain and model communication analysis. The setup and maintenance of a hydrologic framework for model coupling requires substantial resources, but on the other hand, contributions can be made by many research groups.
ISBN 1402029187
Language eng
Field of Research 050305 Soil Physics
Socio Economic Objective 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences
HERDC Research category B1 Book chapter
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