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Soil Science Society of America Journal
Year: 2008  |  Volume: 72  |  Issue: 5  |  Page No.: 1197 - 1207

A Test of Coupled Soil Heat and Water Transfer Prediction under Transient Boundary Temperatures

J. L. Heitman, R. Horton, T. Ren, I. N. Nassar and D. D. Davis    

Abstract: Diffusion-based coupled soil heat and water transfer theory includes capability to describe transient behavior. Unfortunately, laboratory tests of theory typically include a single initial water content distribution with a single set of boundary conditions, rather than providing a set of experimental conditions with a range of measurements for comparison with predictions. Agreement between theory and measurements can result from calibration, but this provides an incomplete test of theory. The objective of this work was to test diffusion-based coupled heat and water transfer theory by comparing theory-based predictions with measured transient temperature and water content distributions. Data from a single boundary condition were used for calibration of each of two soils, silt loam and sand. Subsequent testing was performed at additional boundary and initial conditions using measurements from the same soil. Results indicate that the theory can be calibrated for a single boundary condition with adjustment of soil saturated hydraulic conductivity and/or the vapor enhancement factor, which adjust the liquid and vapor fluxes, respectively. For silt loam, calibration reduced Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) by 67 and 18% for water content and temperature distributions, respectively. For sand, RMSE was reduced by 14 and 46% for water content and temperature, respectively. Using this calibration, there was agreement between calculated and measured distributions for additional boundary and initial conditions with RMSE ≤ 0.03 m3m–3 and 1.28°C for water content and temperature distributions, respectively. However, when the boundary temperature gradient was instantly reversed, noticeable differences occurred between measured and calculated patterns of heat and moisture redistribution. The theory described observations well when boundary temperature conditions were changed gradually, but results suggested a need for further development of coupled heat and water transfer theory combined with testing under transient conditions to make improvements in the description of transfer mechanisms.

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