Measurements of the soil water characteristic (SWC) and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity [K(h)] curves, which are at the core of modeling flow and transport processes in porous media, are laborious and prone to experimental errors. To overcome some of the current experimental limitations, we examined the potential feasibility of shortwave infrared (SWIR) imaging of water imbibition into dry soil during a controlled laboratory experiment in conjunction with inverse numerical modeling to determine the wetting SWC and the K(h) function. To generate time series of high-resolution surface moisture maps, the imaged surface reflectance was converted to surface soil moisture via a recently developed physical radiative transfer model. The moisture time series were then used to parameterize the HYDRUS 2D/3D numerical code for forward simulations. The optimization was performed with simulated annealing in MATLAB that was linked to HYDRUS 2D/3D to automate the inversion process. The obtained SWC wetting curves were subsequently compared with Tempe cell and Dewpoint PotentiaMeter measurements. Although further research and refinements of the proposed method are needed, the results of this exploratory study obtained for a broad range of soil textures are promising and demonstrate the potential feasibility of the proposed approach for rapid estimation of soil hydraulic properties.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Soil Science