Evaluating Soil Moisture and Hydraulic Conductivity in Semi-Arid Rangeland Soils

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by Martha P. L. Whitaker, Univ of Arizona, Tucson, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: High Level Radioactive Waste Management 1993:

Abstract: The United States Department of Energy's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (DOE-OCRWM) Fellowship Program supports various disciplines of academic research related to the isolation of radionuclides from the biosphere. The purpose of this paper is to provide an example of a university research application in the specific discipline of hydrology and water resources (a multi-disciplinary field encompassing engineering and the earth sciences), and to discuss how this research pertains to the objectives of the DOE-OCRWM Fellowship Program. The university research application is twofold: one portion focuses on the spatial variability of soil moisture (θ) and the other section compares point measurements with small watershed estimates of hydraulic conductivity (K) in a semi-arid rangeland soil in Arizona. For soil moisture measurements collected over a range of horizontal sampling intervals, no spatial correlation was evident. This outcome is reassuring to computer modelers who have assumed no spatial correlation for soil moisture over smaller scales. In regard to hydraulic conductivity, point measurements differed significantly from small watershed estimates of hydraulic conductivity which were derived from a calibrated and verified rainfall-runoff computer model. The estimates of saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) were obtained from previous computer simulations in which measured data was collected in the same research location as the present study.

Subject Headings: Soil water | Hydraulic conductivity | Computer models | Colleges and universities | Arid lands | Rangeland | Hydraulic models | Radioactive wastes |

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