University of FloridaDepartment of Agricultural & Biological Engineering


ABE 6265: Vadose Zone Water & Solute Transport Modeling

Semester: Summer A (alternative years)
Credits: 3

Catalog Description

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

  • Understanding fundamentals of soil hydrology: flow, solute transport, and water quality.
  • Step-by-step development and testing of numerical code for flow and solute transport through the vadose zone.
  • Exploring the oportunities of functional/simplified vs. numerical approaches for modeling water and solute transport in the unsaturated Vadose Zone.
  • Use of advanced tools for formal model calibration and evaluation.
  • Analysis of prediction uncertainty and global sensitivity analysis of models.
  • Knowledge of High Performance Computing (HPC) throughput simulation tools for global sensitivity and uncertainty analysis of models.
  • Application to student's own research area.


Dr. Rafael Muñoz-Carpena
Professor in Hydrology and Water Quality
287 Frazier Rogers Hall,
P.O. Box 110570
Gainesville, FL  32611-0570
(352) 392-1864 x287
(352) 392-4092 (fax)

Use CANVAS E-mail for Class Correspondence (see below in class materials)

Return to top

Course Outline


Lecture Topic
1 Introductory comments - course outline
2 Water! (and hydrology) - A soil water relations “refresher”
3 Soil water and energy: Capillarity theory - Hydrostatic soil conditions
4 Hydrodynamic conditions: Saturated Flow: Darcy’s Law, Unsaturated flow: Darcy-Buckingham and Richards Equation
5 Infiltration: basis and models (1)
6 Richards Equation - Finite Difference Approximation ands Step-by-Step Programming
7 An Improved Green-Ampt Soil Infiltration And Redistribution Method and Its Application to 1D and 3D (Point Source) Flow Domains
8 Preferential Flow – Description, Factors and Models
9 Evaluation of Model Goodness-of-Fit (GoF) criteria with statistical significance
10 Global Sensitivity and Uncertainty Analysis of models (GSUA)
11 High Performance Computing (HPC) for GSUA
12 Solute transport in porous media: Advective-Dispersive-Reactive (ADR) transport equation
13 Modeling solute transport in porous media: ADR numerical and Analytic Solutions and Simplified approaches - SLIM model
14 Reactive transport in porous media: nitrogen cycle and modeling with WAVE
15 The Modeling Trilemma: Complexity, Uncertainty and Relevance
16 Natural Science and Models


Return to top

Class Materials

Class web site

CANVAS:: (Click on “Log in to E-learning”)

Material/Supply Fees


Required Materials

Reading materials on Canvas 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 Pollution in VZ (AGU)
  • Tindall and Kunkel, 1999. Unsaturated Zone Hydrology for Scientists and Engineering
  • 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)

Return to top

Attendance and Expectations

Active class participation is necessary to satisfactorily complete this course.

Return to top



Grading Scale
A ≥90% C ≥70-<77
B+ ≥87-<90 D+ ≥67-<70
B ≥80-<87 D ≥60-<67
C+ ≥77-<80 F <60

Grading Method Percent
5 Projects 80%
Class participation 20%
All work to be submitted via WebCT


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., Microsoft Word .doc or Adobe Acrobat .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.

Return to top

Academic Honesty

All students admitted to the University of Florida have signed a statement of academic honesty committing themselves to be honest in all academic work and understanding that failure to comply with this commitment will result in disciplinary action. This statement is a reminder to uphold your obligation as a UF student and to be honest in all work submitted and exams taken in this course and all others.

Return to top

Accommodation for Students with Disabilities

Students requesting classroom accommodation must first register with the Dean of Students Office. That office will provide the student with documentation that he/she must provide to the course instructor when requesting accommodation.

Return to top

Use of Library, Personal References, PC Programs & Electronic Databases

These items are university property and should be utilized with other users in mind. Never remove, mark, modify nor deface resources that do not belong to you. If you're in the habit of underlining text, do it only on your personal copy. It is inconsiderate, costly to others, and dishonest to use common references otherwise.

Return to top

Software Use

All faculty, staff and students of the University are required and expected to obey the laws and legal agreements governing software use. Failure to do so can lead to monetary damages and/or criminal penalties for the individual violator. Because such violations are also against University policies and rules, disciplinary action will be taken as appropriate. We, the members of the University of Florida community, pledge to hold ourselves and our peers to the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

Return to top

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:

Return to top

This page was last updated on July 13, 2019.