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Meta-analysis on Macropore Flow Velocity in Soils

Presentation Date
Thursday, December 14, 2017 at 8:00am
New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center - Poster Hall D-F



Macropore flow is ubiquitous in the soils and an important hydrologic process that is not well explained using traditional hydrologic theories. Macropore Flow Velocity (MFV) is an important parameter used to describe macropore flow and quantify its effects on runoff generation and solute transport. However, the dominant factors controlling MFV are still poorly understood and the typical ranges of MFV measured at the field are not defined clearly. To address these issues, we conducted a meta-analysis based on a database created from 246 experiments on MFV collected from 76 journal articles. For a fair comparison, a conceptually unified definition of MFV is introduced to convert the MFV measured with different approaches and at various scales including soil core, field, trench or hillslope scales. The potential controlling factors of MFV considered include scale, travel distance, hydrologic conditions, site factors, macropore morphologies, soil texture, and land use. The results show that MFV is about 2~3 orders of magnitude larger than the corresponding values of saturated hydraulic conductivity. MFV is much larger at the trench and hillslope scale than at the field profile and soil core scales and shows a significant positive correlation with the travel distance. Generally, higher irrigation intensity tends to trigger faster MFV, especially at field profile scale, where MFV and irrigation intensity have significant positive correlation. At the trench and hillslope scale, the presence of large macropores (diameter>10 mm) is a key factor determining MFV. The geometric mean of MFV for sites with large macropores was found to be about 8 times larger than those without large macropores. For sites with large macropores, MFV increases with the macropore diameter. However, no noticeable difference in MFV has been observed among different soil texture and land use. Comparing the existing equations to describe MFV, the Poiseuille equation significantly overestimated the observed values, while the Manning-type equations generate reasonable values. The insights from this study will shed light on future field campaigns and modeling of macropore flow.

Funding Program Area(s)