DOI: 10.3390/w15152711 ISSN: 2073-4441

A Comparison of Saturated Hydraulic Conductivity (Ksat) Estimations from Pedotransfer Functions (PTFs) and Field Observations in Riparian Seasonal Wetlands

Bidisha Faruque Abesh, Jason A. Hubbart
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Aquatic Science
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Biochemistry

Accurate saturated hydraulic conductivity (Ksat) predictions are critical for precise water flow estimations. Pedotransfer functions (PTFs) have been used to estimate Ksat based on soil structural and textural properties. However, PTF accuracy must be validated with observed Ksat values to improve confidence in model predictions. A study was conducted in the seasonal wetlands of a representative mixed land-use watershed in West Virginia (WV), USA. The observed data included soil characteristics and observed piezometric Ksat using slug tests. Soil texture was predominantly sandy, and the observed average Ksat ranged from 35.90 to 169.64 m/d. The average bulk dry density (bdry) increased, while porosity and volumetric water content decreased significantly with a depth to 45 cm (p < 0.05). The degree of saturation varied significantly between monitoring sites (p < 0.05). A Pearson correlation matrix and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) revealed that Ksat was more connected to soil textural properties, specifically clay. Single parameter PTFs that estimated Ksat as a function of clay content performed better (ME = −90.19 m/d, RMSE = 102.87 m/d) than the PTFs that used silt or sand percentages (ME= −96.86 m/d, RMSE = 108.77). However, all five PTFs predicted Ksat with low accuracy (RMSE > 100 m/d), emphasizing the need to calibrate existing PTFs with observed data or develop site-specific PTFs. These results provide valuable insights into Ksat estimation in riparian wetlands of mixed land-use watersheds and are a helpful reference for land managers and future work.

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