We theoretically investigated the effect of vapor flow on the drying front that develops in soils when water evaporates from the soil surface and on GPR data. The results suggest the integration of the full-wave GPR model with a coupled water, vapor, and heat flow model to accurately estimate the soil hydraulic properties. We investigated the Effects of a drying front that emerges below an evaporating soil surface on the far-field ground-penetrating radar (GPR) data. First, we performed an analysis of the width of the drying front in soils with 12 different textures by using an analytical model. Then, we numerically simulated vertical soil moisture profiles that develop during evaporation for the soil textures. We performed the simulations using a Richards flow model that considers only liquid water flow and a model that considers coupled water, vapor, and heat flows. The GPR signals were then generated from the simulated soil water content profiles taking into account the frequency dependency of apparent electrical conductivity and dielectric permittivity. The analytical approach indicated that the width of the drying front at the end of Stage I of the evaporation was larger in silty soils than in other soil textures and smaller in sandy soils. We also demonstrated that the analytical estimate of the width of the drying front can be considered as a proxy for the impact that a drying front could have on far-field GPR data. The numerical simulations led to the conclusion that vapor transport in soil resulted in S-shaped soil moisture profiles, which clearly influenced the GPR data. As a result, vapor flow needs to be considered when GPR data are interpreted in a coupled inversion approach. Moreover, the impact of vapor flow on the GPR data was larger for silty than for sandy soils. These Effects on the GPR data provide promising perspectives regarding the use of radars for evaporation monitoring. © Soil Science Society of America 5585 Guilford Rd., Madison, WI 53711 USA. All rights reserved.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Soil Science