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Publication# Coupled inverse modeling of a controlled irrigation experiment using multiple hydro-geophysical data

Abstract

Geophysical surveys can provide useful, albeit indirect, information on vadose zone processes. However, the ability to provide a quantitative description of the subsurface hydrological phenomena requires to fully integrate geophysical data into hydrological modeling. Here, we describe a controlled infiltration experiment that was monitored using both electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) and ground-penetrating radar (GPR). The experimental site has a simple, well-characterized subsoil structure: the vadose zone is composed of aeolic sand with largely homogeneous and isotropic properties. In order to estimate the unknown soil hydraulic conductivity, we apply a data assimilation technique based on a sequential importance resampling (SIR) approach. The SIR approach allows a simple assimilation of either or both geophysical datasets taking into account the associated measurement uncertainties. We demonstrate that, compared to a simpler, uncoupled hydro-geophysical approach, the coupled data assimilation process provides a more reliable parameter estimation and better reproduces the evolution of the infiltrating water plume. The coupled procedure is indeed much superior to the uncoupled approach that suffers from the artifacts of the geophysical inversion step and produces severe mass balance errors. The combined assimilation of GPR and ERT data is then investigated, highlighting strengths and weaknesses of the two datasets. In the case at hand GPR energy propagates in form of a guided wave that, over time, shows different energy distribution between propagation modes as a consequence of the evolving thickness of the wet layer. We found that the GPR inversion procedure may produce estimates on the depth of the infiltrating front that are not as informative as the ERT dataset.

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Related concepts (7)

Hydrological model

A hydrologic model is a simplification of a real-world system (e.g., surface water, soil water, wetland, groundwater, estuary) that aids in understanding, predicting, and managing water resources. Both the flow and quality of water are commonly studied using hydrologic models. Prior to the advent of computer models, hydrologic modeling used analog models to simulate flow and transport systems. Unlike mathematical models that use equations to describe, predict, and manage hydrologic systems, analog models use non-mathematical approaches to simulate hydrology.

Data assimilation

Data assimilation is a mathematical discipline that seeks to optimally combine theory (usually in the form of a numerical model) with observations. There may be a number of different goals sought – for example, to determine the optimal state estimate of a system, to determine initial conditions for a numerical forecast model, to interpolate sparse observation data using (e.g. physical) knowledge of the system being observed, to set numerical parameters based on training a model from observed data.

Inverse problem

An inverse problem in science is the process of calculating from a set of observations the causal factors that produced them: for example, calculating an image in X-ray computed tomography, source reconstruction in acoustics, or calculating the density of the Earth from measurements of its gravity field. It is called an inverse problem because it starts with the effects and then calculates the causes. It is the inverse of a forward problem, which starts with the causes and then calculates the effects.