You are here: Home / News / Meetings - Reports - Publications / ISMC News 20 July 2022

ISMC News 20 July 2022

Announcements + Featured Paper + Featured Soil Modeller
A new ISMC WG: The ‘Math’ of Soil Progress
We are pleased to announce a new ISMC working group ( and invite interested participants to register here:
The working group aims to develop a manuscript on the current state of soil modeling with a specific focus on Earth's water, carbon, nutrient and energy cycles. In this manuscript we will focus on identifying core processes (for example: root-soil interactions, mass/energy flow, carbon dynamics, and nutrient dynamics), mathematical representations of these processes, highlight current example models, and key trade-off/considerations for future development.
 To do this we will:
  • Meet every other week virtually on zoom to work on this manuscript (June 2022 onward)
  • Develop a catalog or classification ontology for soil models based on their process representation and space-time scales.
  • Consider convening a workshop in 2023 to present catalog/classification development and seed discuss future development.
  • Submit a manuscript within June 2024
Registration closes 19 August 2022. Our next meeting is expected 1600UTC 25 August 2022. Call in information will be sent prior to the meeting.
This group will be co-charied by Yijian Zeng <>, Kathe Todd-Brown <>, and Martine van der Ploeg <>.
Advances in Managed Aquifer Recharge for Groundwater Sustainability
Session conveners: Helen E Dahlke (University of California Davis), Scott Alan Bradford (USDA, ARS, US Salinity Laboratory), Alex Furman (Technion Israel Institute of Technology), Salini Sasidharan (Oregon State University)
Groundwater has become an indispensable resource across the world that is used for agricultural production, drinking water supply, and climate change adaptation. However, groundwater overexploitation has resulted in several adverse effects such as groundwater depletion, groundwater quality degradation, land subsidence, seawater intrusion, and degradation of freshwater-dependent ecosystems. To address these problems, water resources managers increasingly turn to managed aquifer recharge (MAR), a method that intentionally transfers excess water (e.g., surface water, recycled or treated water) to underground flow and storage, generating extractive and/or non-extractive benefits.
This session encourages submissions on new developments in the growing field of managed aquifer recharge. We invite contributions on:
  • emerging MAR technologies including injection methods, vadose zone recharge (e.g., drywells), and surface spreading methods (e.g., infiltration basins, flood-managed and agricultural MAR);
  • methods to characterize and/or simulate water flow and contaminant transport processes during MAR;
  • water balance studies investigating the role of MAR in water supply reliability, flood-risk reduction, groundwater quality, drought preparedness, and climate change adaptation;
  • the multi-faceted hydrologic, ecological and socio-economic benefits of MAR, and;
  • potential institutional challenges, socio-environmental impediments, and unintended consequences associated with intentional groundwater recharge.
  • We are especially interested in case studies that explore the complex processes, interactions, and tradeoffs to consider in MAR as well as socio-hydrological, water policy or water governance aspects of these methods.
AGU Fall Meeting (12-16 December 2022, Chicago, IL, USA). Additional information and abstract submission can be found here: 
Abstract deadline is on Wednesday 3rd August 2022 at 23:59 EDT.
ISMC session at the IUSS Soil Conference 
There will be an ISMC session “Modelling soil processes from ped to global scale” at the IUSS in Glasgow. The following talks are scheduled:
  1. Mina Azizi-Rad : Model selection from incubation data for representing soil carbon dynamics
  2. Francis Durnin-Vermette: Including manure-amendments to croplands in Canadian modelled estimates of soil organic carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Daniel Gimenez: Linking static and dynamic properties to define soil heterogeneity at the meter-scale
  4. Umakant Mishra : Machine learning to investigate model representation of SOC storage and dynamics
  5. Mahyar Naseri: Experimental, theoretical, and modelling approaches to characterize hydraulic properties of stony soils
  6. Anne Verhoef: Modelling the impact of land-management based natural flood management measures using combined soil hydrological and surface-groundwater models
  7. Michael Young: Forecasting soil water content with soil models and weather information
  8. Brigitta Szabó: Derivation and harmonization of soil data for SWAT+ modelling in European catchments
There will also be a poster session. See for the full programme: 
Featured Paper 
Soil water potential: A historical perspective and recent breakthroughs
Soil water potential is a cornerstone in defining the thermodynamic state of soil water required to quantify phenomena such as water phase change, water movement, heat transfer, electric current, chemical transport, and mechanical stress and deformation in the earth’s shallow subsurface environment. This potential has historically been conceptualized as free energy stored in a until volume of soil water. Though the concept of soil water potential has been evolving over the past 120 yr, a consensual definition is still lacking, and answers to some fundamental questions remain controversial and elusive. What are the origins and mechanisms for the free energy of soil water? Can the common mathematical expression of soil water potential as superposition of gravitational, osmotic, and matric potentials be used to define water phase transitions in soil? Are these major components of soil water potential independent or coupled? Is pore water pressure always tensile under unsaturated conditions? If so, how can soil water density be as high as 1.7 g cm−3? How do adsorptive soil–water interactions originating from the electromagnetic field around and within soil particles transfer to mechanical pore pressure? In this review, the authors (a) provide critical analysis of historical definitions of soil water potential to identify their
strengths, limitations, and flaws; (b) synthesize the origins of electromagnetic energies
in soil to clarify the fundamental differences between adsorptive and capillary
soil water potential mechanisms; (c) introduce a recently emerging concept of soil
matric potential that unifies contributions of adsorption and capillarity to soil water
potential; and (d) illustrate the generality and promise of the unified definition of soil
water potential for answering some of the fundamental questions that remain elusive
to the hydrology, geoengineering, and geoscience communities.
Figure 6: Change of matric potential due to the physicochemical interactions between water molecules and negatively charged clay particles: (a) pressure drop across the air-water interface caused by capillarity; (b–f) independent mechanisms mainly contributing to the water adsorption and soil sorptive potential; and (g) energy barrier provided by attractive forces between adjacent 2:1 (top) and 1:1 (bottom) clay layers.
Do you want your paper featured? Please share your papers via @ISMC_News. With your contributions, we will select one paper to be featured every month.
Featured Soil Modeller 
Cost-effective modeling and data fusion method in soil hydrology
- A brief paragraph of your CV, where you are currently based, and what is your topic in general.
Yuanyuan Zha is a soil and groundwater hydrologist and an associate professor at Wuhan University. He received his B.Sc. degree in Irrigation and Drainage Engineering Science (2008) from Wuhan University. Then, he earned his Ph.D. degree in the School of Water Resources and Hydropower Engineering at Wuhan University in October 2014, working with Prof. Jinzhong Yang focusing on numerical methods for solving Richards equation for describing soil water flow. During his time as a Ph.D. student (2012-2014), he visited Prof. Tian-Chyi Jim Yeh at the University of Arizona to study hydraulic tomography --- a cost-effective method for the characterization of heterogeneous soil hydraulic properties. He stayed at Arizona as a postdoc in 2015 before he moved back China in 2016.
- Please tell us briefly about yourself and your research interest.
I am a soil and groundwater hydrologist and is interested in studies of mass and energy transfer in the vadose zone and groundwater aquifer. We have developed several cost-effective numerical algorithm to solve Richards equation, including the one that explained and solved the difficulties in modeling infiltration into initially dry soil using Picard iteration method ( We are also interested in characterizing heterogeneous soil hydraulic properties using hydraulic tomography, which is a concept of collecting a series of signals induced by man-made or naturally occurring hydraulic excitation, such as pumping, infiltration, etc ( Then, a data fusion algorithm combined with geostatistics is deployed to reveal the information of soil hydraulic properties embedded in these signals.
-  How did you first become interested in soil modelling and learn about ISMC?
In summer 2008, when I was a master student, Dr. Jingwei Wu in our school, conducted a project to investigate whether an artificial cobblestone layer beneath the arable layer changes the soil moisture and causes soil erosion in the upperstream of Tingzikou Reservoir, Sichuan, China. The elevation of the cultivated lands was lifted by cobblestones to prevent soil water logging after the operation of the reservoir. We were interested in designing several soil column experiments, especially numerical modeling to reveal the influences of soil texture and soil/cobblestone layer thicknesses on the performances of root-zone water storage. This engineering problem introduced me to the world of soil modelling. I learned about ISMC from my collaborators Yijian Zeng and Yonggen Zhang. It is a great network for soil physicists and hydrologists to share new insights.
-Can you share with us your current research focus?
Our recent focus is on the characterization of heterogeneous soil hydraulic properties using data fusion. Specially, we tried to reveal the soil hydraulic properties at different depths using available observations, such as data stream of soil moisture under different hydraulic scenarios, e.g., infiltration, evaporation ( In addition to soil moisture, we also would like to use UAV-based observations, such as leaf area index and plant height, to reveal the soil water status as well as the heterogeneous soil hydraulic properties in a soil-plant-atmosphere system at field or even larger scales ( Our work will facilitate the agrohydrological modelers to model soil hydrological and agricultural processes in a cost-effective way.
- Please tell us briefly how your research could contribute to ISMC Science Panel’s activities? Or the other way around, how do you wish ISMC science panels help/support your research activities?
Our work of numerical algorithms for solving Richards equation is relevant to the ISMC community members, who are interested in modeling the land-atmosphere interactions in land surface modeling, since a large-scale model involving nonlinear vadose zone flow process is often suffered from computational cost and numerical instability. The work of characterizing heterogeneous soil hydraulic properties could be possibly combined with soil physics researches such as soil pedotransfer functions. The ISMC has been a great interdisciplinary platform for soil modeling. The ISMC science panels are beneficial for us since they introduce scientists with the background of remote sensing, soil physics, land surface modeling, who are potentially our collaborators regarding soil modeling.
- What resources or skills would you recommend that early career members of ISMC should acquire? And how can ISMC help and support early career members in this regard?
Soil modelling requires interdisciplinary knowledge. ISMC provides a great platform for soil physicists and hydrologists to share new ideas. My collaborator Yonggen Zhang has benefited from being a member of ISMC community, as I found some of his coauthored papers were resulted from ISMC activities/network and he enthusiastically told me that the community is a great platform to discuss common interests, share ideas, and work together on roadmap for future research. I would recommend early career members to actively participate in the ISMC working groups, since it will connect you to scientists with different background, such as mathematics, soil physics, agriculture, remote sensing, hydrology, etc. ISMC has already done a fantastic job to support early career members by introducing them to different working groups, summer schools, and activities.
News Archive

Looking for older announcements?
Visit the archive here.

This is Pacific Theme