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ISMC News 28 June 2022

Announcements + Featured Soil Modeller
New Working Group: Machine Learning for Soil Modeling
ISMC will start up a working group focusing on Machine Learning Approaches and their applicability for soil modeling. If you are interested to participate, please send an email to:
Terrestrial Modelling and High-Performance Scientific Computing
The Centre for High-Performance Scientific Computing in Terrestrial Systems (HPSC TerrSys) offers a fall school from 26 - 30 September 2022 in Bonn, Germany. The course is aimed at Master's and Ph.D. students as well as PostDocs interested in Terrestrial Modelling and High-Performance Scientific Computing. The school is supported by Geoverbund ABC/J and the Collaborative Research Centre CRC1502 'DETECT'. For more information and registration click here.
General Assembly Meeting Held
The annual general assembly meeting was held on June 8, 2022 with more than 20 members in attendance. The assembly heard reports from the executive committee and leaders of the active working groups. The assembly also heard a proposal for the next ISMC conference to be held in early 2024 at Tianjin University in China.Finances for 2020-2021 were reported, approved and new budget auditors volunteered and were appointed.
An outlook on the 2022-2023 activities was presented, which include the new WG on Machine Learning, a side event for ECR will be organized at AGU, and a summer school is planned for both of which ISMC will provide funding. If you’d like to receive the minutes please contact
 Featured Soil Modeller Yonggen Zhang
 Soil modeling characterizing flow dynamics
 Yonggen Zhang is a soil hydrologist as an associate professor in the School of Earth System Sciences, Tianjin University since July 2017, the first modern university in China. Before joining Tianjin University, he was a Ph.D. visiting student at the University of Arizona, working with Marcel Schaap and Shlomo Neuman since February 2012. He was then appointed as a research specialist / postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Hydrology and Department of SWES at the University of Arizona since September 2013. He received his Ph.D. in Subsurface Hydrology from the China University of Geosciences, Beijing in China in May 2014 and his B.S. degree in Subsurface Hydrology from Jilin University, Changchun, China in 2007. His primary research focuses on modeling soil water and groundwater dynamics and obtaining hydraulic properties through inverse modeling, pedotransfer functions, and data assimilation. He is also active in pore-scale simulation.
- Please tell us briefly about yourself and your research interest.
The main thrust of my work is to characterize hydraulic properties for a better understanding of how water moves in the porous media. To this end, I carried out simulations in various scales, from pore-scale, field plot scale, to regional scales. For the pore-scale, I mainly used lattice Boltzmann simulation to characterize how the soil hydraulic parameters were affected by the basic soil properties from a mechanical point of view. For the field plot scale simulation, I mainly carried out inverse simulation and developed pedotransfer functions to estimate soil hydraulic properties. For the regional scale, I mainly used land surface models to simulate the water cycles on Earth. We are currently developing soil pedotransfer functions for dual-modal soil properties by considering macropore effects and carrying out regional-scale simulations to test how the developed pedotransfer function improves the water cycle simulations.
-  How did you first become interested in soil modelling and learn about ISMC?
I first came in contact with soil modeling during my Ph.D., where a series of infiltration tests was carried out in Maricopa site, Arizona, with an area of 50 m2 down to a depth of 14.5 m unsaturated zone. We were interested in modeling the infiltration process, carried out for more than 300 days. One of the big challenges is that the soil hydraulic property at this site is difficult and expensive to obtain, and we, therefore, proposed an innovative inverse modeling to estimate the soil hydraulic properties. I learned about ISMC when I attended an International Workshop on Soil Physics and the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems, held in Shenyang, China, in August 2017. During the workshop, I attended a round table discussion entitled "Challenge for soil sciences in Global Climate models" which was organized by Dani Or and Harry Vereecken. During the break, Harry introduced ISMC to me, and then I quickly realized that ISMC is highly relevant to my interests and I would like to be fully involved in this organization. “Finally, I found you”.
-Can you share with us your current research focus? And, please tell us briefly how your research could contribute to ISMC Science Panel's activities
I currently focus on developing pedotransfer functions to the estimation of soil hydraulic parameters for bimodal or multi-modal soil, which are caused by the presence of, e.g., macropores, soil aggregates, and fractures. In addition, I am also doing some large-scale simulations (i.e., land surface modeling) by updating soil hydraulic properties developed from new pedotransfer functions to improve the water cycle simulations. In addition, I co-lead a working group of pedotransfer functions with Lutz. The working group aims to bring together international scientists working on pedotransfer functions in different disciplines to discuss common interests, share ideas, and work together on roadmap for future research.
-Please tell us how can ISMC help you advance in your career?
ISMC provides me with a platform to share ideas and work together to solve scientific questions that require community efforts and multiple-disciplinary knowledge. The bi-annual working group meeting helps me to communicate with our community members to share the state-of-the-art research work. The ISMC platform helps me promote our updated Rosetta3 model in the ISMC Resources panel and help the end-users quickly locate what they need. In addition, ISMC International Conference was proposed to be held at Tianjin University in 2021, but because of CoVID-19, the meeting had become a virtual meeting. The next ISMC International Conference is likely to be held at Tianjin University if international travel is possible, which will bring many soil modelers to Tianjin and discuss our latest research outcomes and communicate with friends that haven't seen for years.
- 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?
I recommend early career members of ISMC participate various activities from summer school and workshops to enhance their modeling skills, take part in working groups to communicate with scientists of common interests, and attend ISMC International Conference to present their state-of-the-art research work. In general, ISMC can effectively help and support members with various interests and different career stages, especially early career members, addressing what they need in soil modeling.
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