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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 16, issue 11 | Copyright
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 16, 4361-4372, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 23 Nov 2012

Research article | 23 Nov 2012

Estimating field-scale soil water dynamics at a heterogeneous site using multi-channel GPR

X. Pan1,*, J. Zhang2, P. Huang2, and K. Roth1 X. Pan et al.
  • 1Institute of Environmental Physics, Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, Germany
  • 2State Experimental Station of Agro-Ecosystem in Fengqiu, State Key Laboratory of Soil and Sustainable Agriculture, Institute of Soil Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing, China
  • *now at: Global Institute for Water Security, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada

Abstract. We explore the feasibility to quantify the field-scale soil water dynamics through time series of GPR (ground-penetrating radar) measurements, which bridge the gap between point measurements and field measurements. Working on a 40 m × 50 m area in a heterogeneous agricultural field, we obtain a time series of radargrams after a heavy rainfall event. The data are analysed to simultaneously yield (i) a three-dimensional representation of the subsurface architecture and (ii) the total soil water volume between the surface and a reflection boundary associated with the presence of paleo sand dunes or clay inclusions in a rather uniform sand matrix. We assess the precision and the accuracy of these quantities and conclude that the method is sensitive enough to capture the spatial structure of the changing soil water content in a three-dimensional heterogeneous soil during a short-duration infiltration event. While the sensitivity of the method needs to be improved, it already produced useful information to understand the observed patterns in crop height and it yielded insight into the dynamics of soil water content at this site including the effect of evaporation.

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