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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-455
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-455
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  09 Nov 2020

09 Nov 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Hysteresis in soil hydraulic conductivity as driven by salinity and sodicity: a modeling framework

Isaac Kramer, Yuval Bayer, Taiwo Adeyemo, and Yair Mau Isaac Kramer et al.
  • The Institute of Environmental Sciences, The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot 76100 Israel

Abstract. Declines in soil saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ks) as a result of saline and sodic irrigation water are a major cause of soil degradation. While it is understood that the mechanisms that lead to degradation can cause irreversible changes in Ks, existing models do not account for hysteresis between the degradation and rehabilitation processes. We develop the first model for the effect of saline and sodic water on Ks that explicitly includes hysteresis. As such, the idea that a soil's history of degradation and rehabilitation determines its future Ks lies at the center of our model. By means of a weight function, the model accounts for soil specific differences, such as clay content. The weight function also determines the form of the hysteresis curves, which are not restricted to a single shape, as in some existing models for irreversible soil processes. The concept of the weight function is used to develop a reversibility index, which allows for the quantitative comparison of different soils and their susceptibility to irreversible degradation. We discuss the experimental setup required to find a soil's weight function and show how the weight function determines the degree to which Ks is reversible, for a given soil. We demonstrate the feasibility of this procedure by presenting novel experimental results showcasing the presence of hysteresis in soil Ks, and using these results to calculate a weight function. Past experiments and models on the decline of Ks due to salinity and sodicity focus on degradation alone, ignoring any characterization of the degree to which declines in Ks are reversible. Our model and experimental results emphasize the need to measure reversal curves, obtained from rehabilitation measurements following mild declines in Ks. The developed model has the potential to significantly improve our ability to assess the risk of soil degradation, by allowing for the consideration of how the accumulation of small degradation events can cause significant land degradation.

Isaac Kramer et al.

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Isaac Kramer et al.

Data sets

Modeling Irreversible Soil Degradation and Rehabilitation with the Preisach Framework Isaac Kramer, Yuval Bayer, and Yair Mau https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4013423

Model code and software

Modeling Irreversible Soil Degradation and Rehabilitation with the Preisach Framework Isaac Kramer, Yuval Bayer, and Yair Mau https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4013423

Isaac Kramer et al.

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Short summary
Salinity and sodicity can cause irreversible degradation to soil, threatening agricultural production and food security. To date, very little is known about the degree in which soil degradation can be reversible. We introduce a model for describing this partial reversibility (hysteresis), and lay out the experimental procedures necessary for characterizing the soil in this regard. We must shift our focus from degradation measurements to reversal measurements, so we can maintain healthy soils.
Salinity and sodicity can cause irreversible degradation to soil, threatening agricultural...
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