Performance evaluation of different soil water retention functions for modeling of water flow under transient condition

ABSTRACT ABSTRACT: Description and prediction of water flow through unsaturated soils is necessary to understand their hydraulic properties, including soil water retention curve (SWRC). Many models have been developed for estimation of SWRC and many researchers compared water retention curve derived from these models with the measured values. In this paper, in addition to comparing measured and derived SWRC, a functional evaluation of SWRC for modeling of soil water movement was carried out using van Genuchten, Brooks-Corey, Campbell and Hutson-Cass models in three sites including Loamy sand, Loam and Clay loam soils. Therefore, the functional behavior of SWRC was quantitatively compared by applying mentioned SWRC to numerical code (HydroGeoSphere) to simulate soil profile drainage under steady-state and transient conditions. The agreement between simulated and measured free drainages values was evaluated using statistical criteria including mean absolute error (MAE), modified index of agreement (d’), modified coefficient efficiency (E’), and t-test. The results demonstrated that the van Genuchten model was slightly better than the other models for estimation of SWRC (MAE 0.014 – 0.016,E’ 0.80 – 0.87 and d’ 0.90 – 0.93) while according to t-test, it was found that the measured and estimated SWRC using various models did not differ significantly. Therefore, it is expected that the simulated free drainage using mentioned SWRC models did not differ significantly with observed values. But the results demonstrated that the simulated free drainage using Brooks-Corey model for Loamy sand soil and van Genuchten and Brooks-Corey models for Loam soil differed significantly (p ≤ 0.05) with measured values.