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Workshop on interfacial displacement in unsaturated porous media, 2011

The three-days workshop took place at February 2-4 2011 in Lauterbad, Germany.

Motivation 

Water distribution and dynamics within the unsaturated zone determine energy balance and key mass fluxes at the land-atmosphere interface at scales ranging from soil profile to continental response. Soil water redistribution and exchanges such as infiltration and evaporation at the interface with the atmospheric boundary layer above, or drainage and recharge with groundwater below often involve displacement of fluid fronts across soil layers and through heterogeneous boundaries. Current modeling concepts are inadequate for describing such complex displacement processes through naturally-heterogeneous soils with highly non-linear flow mechanisms involved, thus limiting their predictive capabilities simply because water-air interfaces may form a stable displacement front or may split into fingers and preferential flow domains, leading to vastly different patterns of water distribution and associated transport pathways.

The workshop aims to provide a platform for scientific exchange among established and young scientists and practitioners from different fields to discuss modeling approaches and observation methods for moving fluid interfaces across material and component interfaces during infiltration, evaporation and redistribution in soils.

The workshop addresses questions such as:

  • Can we identify thresholds giving rise to different flow characteristics as defined by interactions between external forcing and structural material properties?
  • Can we derive upscaling and integration schemes for translating small scale process understanding about the dynamics of fluid interface morphology into large scale modeling concepts?
  • How to design experiments for identifying thresholds processes and appropriate models and parameters for them?
  • What is the role of atmospheric boundary layer characteristics at the soil surface on mass and energy flux across the soil-atmosphere interface.

Keynote Speakers

  • Marco Dentz (CSIC, Spain)
  • Wolfgang Durner (TU Braunschweig, Germany)
  • Majid Hassanizadeh (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)
  • Rudolf Hilfer (University of Stuttgart, Germany)
  • Ruben Juanes (MIT, USA)
  • Knut Jørgen Måløy (University of Oslo, Norway)
  • Paul Meakin (Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, USA)
  • Mathias Schmidt (Procter & Gamble, Germany)
  • Jonas Toelke (Ingrain Inc., Houston, USA)
  • Sjoerd van der Zee (University of Wageningen, The Netherlands)

Program

The program includes invited lectures, oral contributions and extended poster sessions.

Topics

  • Experimental exploration of water and gas dynamics

    • during evaporation (pore scale and continuum scale)
    • during infiltration (pore scale and continuum scale)
    • across material interfaces

  • Modeling of water and gas dynamics focused on

    • fluid interfaces at the pore scale
    • infiltration fronts across material interfaces at the continuum scale
    • computational methods for interface representations

  • Determination of validity limits for classical modeling concepts and development of strategies beyond these limits with respect to

    • anomalous transport and non-Richards flow
    • scaling methods for flow and transport in structured porous media