A novel laboratory method for the retrieval of the soil water retention curve from shortwave infrared reflectance

Sarem Norouzi, Morteza Sadeghi, Markus Tuller, Hamed Ebrahimian, Abdolmajid Liaghat, Scott B. Jones, Lis W. de Jonge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The soil water retention curve (SWRC) is an essential soil property that relates soil water content and matric potential. It plays a crucial role in soil water dynamics and the understanding of various hydrological phenomena at the land surface, including infiltration, runoff, evaporation, and energy exchange processes. In recent years, proximal sensing methods have shown great potential for retrieving this challenging-to-measure property from spectral reflectance. However, a physically-based approach is still lacking as current methods rely on empirical data-driven algorithms. Here we propose a novel physics-based laboratory method that, for the first time, enables direct estimation of the entire SWRC from saturated to dry using soil water content/reflectance data pairs within the shortwave infrared domain. The main hypothesis underlying the new method is that soil optical properties not only vary with soil water content but also with the pore scale distribution of capillary and adsorbed soil water. For evaluation, retrieved soil water retention curves of 21 soils that vastly differ in physical and hydraulic properties were compared to direct measurements. The results suggest that the new method is a rapid and efficient alternative to established laboratory measurement methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number130284
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Laboratory method
  • Optical proximal sensing
  • Shortwave infrared reflectance
  • Soil hydraulic properties
  • Soil water retention curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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