Explaining soil moisture variability as a function of mean soil moisture: A stochastic unsaturated flow perspective



[1] Understanding soil moisture variability and its relationship with water content at various scales is a key issue in hydrological research. In this paper we predict this relationship by stochastic analysis of the unsaturated Brooks-Corey flow in heterogeneous soils. Using sensitivity analysis, we show that parameters of the moisture retention characteristic and their spatial variability determine to a large extent the shape of the soil moisture variance-mean water content function. We demonstrate that soil hydraulic properties and their variability can be inversely estimated from spatially distributed measurements of soil moisture content. Predicting this relationship for eleven textural classes we found that the standard deviation of soil moisture peaked between 0.17 and 0.23 for most textural classes. It was found that the β parameter, which describes the pore-size distribution of soils, controls the maximum value of the soil moisture standard deviation.