Flow dynamics in vadose zones with and without vegetation in an arid region

Wenke Wang, Zaiyong Zhang, Tian chyi Jim Yeh, Gang Qiao, Wenmin Wang, Lei Duan, Shao Yang Huang, Jet Chau Wen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Flow dynamics in a thick vadose zone in an arid region, China was investigated using a field experiment at plots with bare soils and vegetated soils. Detailed pressure head profile along a depth of 8 m, groundwater level, soil moisture content at surface, air temperature, and precipitation were observed over one year's time span. The temporal and spatial variations of pressure heads and hydraulic gradients over the time span elucidate the role of air temperature, precipitation, and soil stratification, the growth of vegetation, on the flow dynamics in the vadose zone. The dynamics includes freezing and thawing of surface soils, infiltration, evapotranspiration, distribution of moisture, and groundwater recharge. Estimated hydraulic gradients based on the observed pressure heads suggest that vegetation affected flow dynamics even at 3 m below land surface during its growth seasons. The pressure head distributions at the vadose zone over the time span were found correlated well with soil stratification or heterogeneity. Afterward, we estimated the land-atmosphere interface flux, water uptake rate by the plants, and we then discussed the relationship between seasonal variation of temperature, precipitation, evaporation, plant growth, soil stratification (heterogeneity) and the flow dynamics in the vadose zone of the region.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-79
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
StatePublished - Aug 2017


  • Evapotranspiration
  • Flow dynamics
  • Heterogeneity
  • Root uptake
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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