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
E-mail: carpena@ufl.edu

Use e-learning email for class correspondence.
Class web site: http://lss.at.ufl.edu

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 MethodPercentage
5 Projects 80%
Class participation 20%
(All work to be submitted via WebCT)


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.

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.

Use of Library, Personal References, PC Programs and 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.

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.

UF Counseling and Career 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 and Wellness Center, 3190 Radio Road, Gainesville, FL 32611
  2. Career Connections Center, Reitz Union, 392-1601, career development assistance and counseling.