2023 journal article
Estimating soil water retention curves from thermal conductivity measurements: A percolation-based effective-medium approximation
JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, 624.
A soil water retention curve (SWRC) describes the relationship between soil water content (θ) and suction (h, also the absolute value of pressure head). Earlier work indicated that correlations existed between the percolation-based effective medium approximation (P-EMA) thermal conductivity (λ) model parameters and soil hydraulic properties. In this study, the critical water content (θc) of the P-EMA model was related to the pore size distribution parameter (m) of the van Genuchten model, water content at the inflection point of a SWRC (θi) and hydraulic continuity water content (θhc). And a pedo-transfer function was established to estimate the van Genuchten model parameter α from soil properties and P-EMA parameters. Based on these relationships, three approaches were developed to estimate the van Genuchten models parameters from λ(θ) measurements, porosity, sand and clay contents. The three approaches were then validated on six independent soils, and results showed that all of the approaches estimated θ well at selected h values, with the average root mean square errors from 0.025 to 0.029 cm3 cm−3, the average mean relative absolute errors ranging from 0.111 to 0.157, and the average Akaike Information Criterion from −18.3 to −16.2. Two new approaches outperformed the original Fu et al approach but with fewer input parameters (no need for organic carbon content), thus also facilitating their broader application.