Water flow in the unsaturated zone is greatly influenced by unsaturated hydrostatics (water content, energy, pressure, and retention) and by unsaturated hydrodynamics (diffuse flow and preferential flow). Important multiphase processes include the transport of gases, nonaqueous liquids, and solid particles. Numerous means are available for determination of unsaturated conditions and properties, both measurement (of moisture state, water retention, and dynamic characteristics) and through various formulas and models that are mostly empirical in nature, but in some cases incorporating insight into unsaturated‐zone physical processes. Applications to practical problems include models and techniques relating to distributions of water and energy, fluxes at the land surface, inputs, outputs, and fluxes within the unsaturated zone, all of which are frequently complicated by heterogeneity and preferential flow. Further scientific advance requires new measurement techniques and theoretical constructs that more adequately represent the important physical processes within practical modeling schemes.
Additional publication details
|Publication type||Book chapter|
|Publication Subtype||Book Chapter|
|Title||Unsaturated zone flow processes|
|Contributing office(s)||Toxic Substances Hydrology Program|
|Larger Work Type||Book|
|Larger Work Title||Encyclopedia of hydrological sciences, part 13, groundwater|