Simple consistent models for water retention and hydraulic conductivity in the complete moisture range



[1] The commonly used hydraulic models only account for capillary water retention and conductivity. Adsorptive water retention and film conductivity is neglected. This leads to erroneous description of hydraulic properties in the dry range. The few existing models, which account for film conductivity and adsorptive retention are either difficult to use or physically inconsistent. A new set of empirical hydraulic models for an effective description of water dynamics from full saturation to complete dryness is introduced. The models allow a clear partitioning between capillary and adsorptive water retention as well as between capillary and film conductivity. The number of adjustable parameters for the new retention model is not increased compared to the commonly used models, whereas only one extra parameter for quantifying the contribution of film conductivity is required for the new conductivity model. Both models are mathematically simple and thus easy to use in simulation studies. The new liquid conductivity model is coupled with an existing vapor conductivity model to describe conductivity in the complete moisture range. The new models were successfully applied to literature data, which all reach the dry to very dry range and cannot be well described with the classic capillary models. The investigated soils range from pure sands to clay loams. A simulation study with steady-state water transport scenarios shows that neglecting either film or vapor conductivity or both can lead to significant underestimation of water transport at low water contents.