On the basis of unsaturated Darcy's law, the Talbot-Ogden method provides a fast unconditional mass conservative algorithm to simulate groundwater infiltration in various unsaturated soil textures. Unlike advanced reservoir modelling methods that compute unsaturated flow in space, it only discretizes the moisture content domain into a suitable number of bins so that the vertical water movement is estimated piecewise in each bin. The dimensionality of the moisture content domain is extended from one dimensional to two dimensional in this study, which allows us to distinguish pore shapes within the same moisture content range. The vertical movement of water in the extended model imitates the infiltration phase in the Talbot-Ogden method. However, the difference in this extension is the directional redistribution, which represents the horizontal inter-bin flow and causes the water content distribution to have an effect on infiltration. Using this extension, we mathematically analyse the general relationship between infiltration and the moisture content distribution associated with wetting front depths in different bins. We show that a more negatively skewed moisture content distribution can produce a longer ponding time, whereas a higher overall flux cannot be guaranteed in this situation. It is proven on the basis of the water content probability distribution independent of soil textures. To illustrate this analysis, we also present numerical examples for both fine and coarse soil textures.
Yu, H., & Douglas, C. C. (2014). An analysis of infiltration with moisture content distribution in a two-dimensional discretized water content domain. Hydrological Processes, 29(6), 1225–1237. doi:10.1002/hyp.10248
The authors would like to thank Prof. Ogden and Dr Talbot for their insights and professional help in the development of this paper. This research was supported in part by NSF grant EPS-1135483 and Award No. KUS-C1-016-04, made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). The authors would also declare that there is no conflict of interest for the publication of this paper.