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On the use of the similar media concept for scaling soil air permeability

Abstract : Soil air permeability (k(a)) is an important factor that controls subsurface gas transport and exchange of gas across the soil-atmosphere interface. It is thus crucial to evaluate the spatial distribution of k(a) for both application and modeling purposes. However, relevant studies are still very limited, partly due to the fact that the dependence of k(a) on soil moisture levels cannot be directly included in the methods such as geostatistical techniques for analyzing the spatial distribution of k(a). To tackle this problem, the scaling scheme based on the similar media concept, which has been widely used in soil hydrology for characterizing spatial variability of soil hydraulic properties, was employed for scaling k(a) in this study. Four air permeability models, including Millington and Quirk (1960)-MQ Hunt (2005)-HT, Brooks and Corey (1964)-BC, and Kawamoto et al. (2006)-KA, were selected to test this method using two independent datasets. For the first dataset that included k(a) measured for river sediments, all of the four models were able to delineate the spatial distribution of k(a) with a reference curve of k(a) and a set of scaling factors. Specifically, the MQ model gave the least satisfactory results due to the less flexibility of its form; whereas, there were no significant differences in the performances for the HT, BC, and KA models. For the second dataset that contained k(a) measured for agricultural soils, the overall performance of the four models for scaling k(a) deteriorated, largely due to the alterations in the microscopic structures of soil samples caused by repacking and compression of soil samples. Nonetheless, as the first attempt, this study shows the viability of using the similar media concept for scaling k(a). The merit of this method resides in the fact that the spatial variations of moisture conditions and soil properties can be simultaneously included for analyzing the spatial distribution of k(a). With a reference curve of k(a) and the distribution of scaling factors, this method would be particularly suitable for modeling subsurface gas transport.
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Tiejun Wang, Xunhong Chen, Anh Minh Tang, Yu-Jun Cui. On the use of the similar media concept for scaling soil air permeability. Geoderma, Elsevier, 2014, 235, pp.154-162. ⟨10.1016/j.geoderma.2014.07.006⟩. ⟨hal-01086487⟩

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