University of Florida

ABE 6265
Vadose Zone Water and Solute Transport Modeling

Semester Taught - Summer A - Even years

Catalog Description

Credits: 3

Unsaturated zone modeling of water flow and solute transport processes. Comparative analysis of alternative mechanistic modeling approaches of different complexity.


The subject matter of this course requires computer literacy and a background on, or willingness to learn, a high level computer language (i.e. Fortran C, Java, Visual Basic, etc) or numerical computing environment (i.e. Matlab, Mathematica, etc.) that allows the student to develop and test algorithms, and read existing vadose zone modeling source code.

Course Objectives

  • Basis of soil hydrology and water quality
  • Comparison of alternative mechanistic approaches to modeling water and solute transport in the unsaturated (vadose) zone
  • Opportunity of functional vs. numerical modeling approaches
  • Application of one and multidimensional modeling approaches.
  • Use of tools for formal model calibration and evaluation
  • Application to student’s own research area


Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena
Office Location: 101 Frazier Rogers Hall
Phone: (352) 392-1864 x287

Use e-learning email for class correspondence.
Class web site:

Material/Supply Fees


Class Materials Required

Reading materials are available on course website and on reserve in department and library.

Recommended Reading

  • Smith et al. 2002. Infiltration Theory for Hydrologic Applications (AGU)
  • Corwin et al. 1999. Assessment of Non-Point Source Polution in VZ (AGU)
  • Tindall and Kunkel, 1999. Unsaturated Zone Hydrology for Scientists and Enginering
  • Warrick, 2002. Soil Physics Companion (CRC)
  • Wilson et al. 1995. Handbook of VZ Characterization & Monitoring (CRC)
  • Alvarez-Benedi and Muñoz-Carpena. 2005. Soil-water-solute Process Characterization: An Integrated Approach (CRC)
  • Raats et al. 2002. Environmental Mechanics: Water, Mass, and Energy Transfer in Biosphere (AGU)
  • Hillel. 1998. Environmental Soil Physics (APress)
  • Fleming. 1975. Computer simulation techniques in hydrology (Elsevier)
  • Kutilek and Nielsen. 1990. Soil Hydrology (Catena Verlag)
  • Haan et al. 1982. Hydrologic Modeling of Small Watersheds (ASAE)
  • Hank and Ritchie. 1991. Modeling Plant and Soil Systems (ASA/CSSA/SSAA)

Course Outline

  • Topic 1: Introduction to computer model uses and limitations
  • Topic 2: Soil and water relationships
  • Topic 3: Hydrostatic conditions
  • Topic 4: Hydrodynamic conditions
  • Topic 5: Infiltration: basis and models (1)
  • Topic 6: Infiltration: basis and models (2), Green-Ampt
  • Topic 7: Infiltration and soil moisture redistribution (GAR)
  • Topic 8: Sensitivity and uncertainty analysis of models
  • Topic 9: Good practices in calibration and testing of models
  • Topic 10: Solute transport in porous media: ADR
  • Topic 11: Solute transport:  simplified approaches
  • Topic 12: Reactive transport in porous media: nitrogen modeling case
  • Topic 13: Modeling and Science

Attendance and Expectations

Active class participation is necessary to satisfactorily complete this course.



These assignments will consist of application of relevant literature in the field through model development and testing to build the student modeling skills and in-depth understanding of the modeling alternatives in vadose zone modeling projects. Assignments will be penalized 10% for each business day late beyond the due date. All assignments must be returned to receive grade in the course.


There will be no exams. The grade will be assessed on the basis of project work and class participation.

All deliverables should be submitted both electronically and in paper. All assignments must be formatted so that they can be printed on standard 8.5” by 11” paper. Electronic documents must be a SINGLE text document (i.e., Word or PDF file) that clearly answers each question and shows the work done to arrive at the answer. Any relevant graphs, tables, and equations that support your answer must be included (i.e., pasted) in this document and must be numbered, labeled, and captioned appropriately. If you do not sufficiently explain your work, you will only get partial credit—and no credit for a wrong answer. You may, and probably should, attach additional material (i.e., well-organized and labeled programs –source code, executables and in/out files, spreadsheets or other calculations), IN ADDITION to the required text report.

Grading Scale
A ≥90
B+ ≥87-<90
B ≥80-<87
C+ ≥77-<80
C ≥70-<77
D+ ≥67-<70
D ≥60-<67
E <60
Grading Method Percentage
5 Projects 80%
Class participation 20%
(All work to be submitted via WebCT)


Academic Honesty

As a student at the University of Florida, you have committed yourself to uphold the Honor Code, which includes the following pledge: “We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honesty and integrity.”  You are expected to exhibit behavior consistent with this commitment to the UF academic community, and on all work submitted for credit at the University of Florida, the following pledge is either required or implied: "On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid in doing this assignment." 
It is assumed that you will complete all work independently in each course unless the instructor provides explicit permission for you to collaborate on course tasks (e.g. assignments, papers, quizzes, exams). Furthermore, as part of your obligation to uphold the Honor Code, you should report any condition that facilitates academic misconduct to appropriate personnel. It is your individual responsibility to know and comply with all university policies and procedures regarding academic integrity and the Student Honor Code.  Violations of the Honor Code at the University of Florida will not be tolerated. Violations will be reported to the Dean of Students Office for consideration of disciplinary action. For more information regarding the Student Honor Code, please see:  

UF Counseling Services

Resources are available on-campus for students having personal problems or lacking clear career and academic goals which interfere with their academic performance. These resources include:

  1. University Counseling Center, 301 Peabody Hall, 392-1575, personal and career counseling;
  2. Student Mental Health, Student Health Care Center, 392-1171, personal counseling;
  3. Center for Sexual Assault/Abuse Recovery and Education (CARE), Student Health Care Center, 392-1161, sexual assault counseling;
  4. Career Resource Center, Reitz Union, 392-1601, career development assistance and counseling.