Numerical study of the evaporation process and parameter estimation analysis of an evaporation experiment

Other literature type English OPEN
Schneider-Zapp, K. ; Ippisch, O. ; Roth, K. (2010)

Evaporation is an important process in soil-atmosphere interaction. The determination of hydraulic properties is one of the crucial parts in the simulation of water transport in porous media. Schneider et al. (2006) developed a new evaporation method to improve the estimation of hydraulic properties in the dry range. In this study we used numerical simulations of the experiment to study the physical dynamics in more detail, to optimise the boundary conditions and to choose the optimal combination of measurements. The physical analysis exposed, in accordance to experimental findings in the literature, two different evaporation regimes: (i) a soil-atmosphere boundary layer dominated regime (regime I) close to saturation and (ii) a hydraulically dominated regime (regime II). During this second regime a drying front (interface between unsaturated and dry zone with very steep gradients) forms which penetrates deeper into the soil as time passes. The sensitivity analysis showed that the result is especially sensitive at the transition between the two regimes. By changing the boundary conditions it is possible to force the system to switch between the two regimes, e.g. from II back to I. Based on this findings a multistep experiment was developed. The response surfaces for all parameter combinations are flat and have a unique, localised minimum. Best parameter estimates are obtained if the evaporation flux and a potential measurement in 2 cm depth are used as target variables. Parameter estimation from simulated experiments with realistic measurement errors with a two-stage Monte-Carlo Levenberg-Marquardt procedure and manual rejection of obvious misfits lead to acceptable results for three different soil textures.
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