Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 1–20 | Cite as

A two-layer model of soil hydrology

  • L. Mahrt
  • H. Pan


A two-layer model of soil hydrology is developed for applications where only limited computer time and complexity are allowed. Volumetric soil water is computed in a thin upper layer for use in calculation of surface evaporation. Storage of water is computed for an underlying deeper layer.

In an effort to identify the influence of significant asymmetric truncation errors in the two-layer model, this model is compared with the 100-level model of Boersma et al. (1983). Comparisons are made for modelled soils with clay, loam and sand properties for various time dependencies of potential evaporation and precipitation. Truncation errors in the resulting two-layer model appear to be modest, at least compared to errors associated with difficulty in estimation of the hydraulic diffusivity and its strong dependence on soil water content.

Minimization of the influence of truncation errors requires: (1) choosing the upper layer to be sufficiently thin, (2) allowing the soil water gradient to control surface evaporation directly and (3) using suitable numerical implementation of the evaluation of internal soil water flux.


On propose un modèle d'hydrologie du sol à deux couches, spécialement élaboré pour des applications où le temps de calcul et la complexité doivent être aussi réduits que possible. Le contenu en eau du sol dans la mince couche de surface est utilisé pour évaluer l'évaporation, tandis que la réserve en eau est calculée pour la couche profonde, beaucoup plus épaisse.

Afin d'estimer les erreurs de troncature et leurs effets dans le modèle à deux couches, des comparaisons sont faites avec le modèle à 100 niveaux de Boersma et al. (1983). Ces comparaisons portent sur des sols de natures variées (argile, terres végétales et sable) et incluent divers taux d'évaporation potentielle et de précipitation. Les effets des erreurs de troncature dans le modèle à 2 couches semblent peu importants par rapport à ceux associés à la mauvaise connaissance de la diffusivité hydraulique et de sa dépendance à l'égard du contenu en eau du sol.

La réduction de l'influence de ces erreurs de troncature nécessite: (1) le choix d'une couche supérieure suffisamment fine; (2) le contrôle direct de l'évaporation vers l'atmosphère à partir de la répartition verticale du contenu en eau du sol; (3) l'utilisation d'une procédure particulière pour évaluer le flux d'eau entre les deux couches du sol.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Mahrt
    • 1
  • H. Pan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Atmospheric SciencesOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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