Review of heat and water movement in field soils

M. B. Parlange, A. T. Cahill, D. R. Nielsen, J. W. Hopmans, O. Wendroth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Coupled heat and water transport in soils has enjoyed extensive focus in soil physics and hydrology, and yet, until recently, there has never been a satisfactory comparison of water vapor fluxes measured in the field with theory. At least two factors have led to this, first, most of the experimental work has been laboratory oriented with steady state boundary conditions imposed and second, there have been relatively few field experiments to test the existing theory. In this paper we review a new theoretical development which explains field observations of water vapor movement. The diurnal warming at the land surface leads to an expansion and contraction of the soil air as it warms and cools resulting in a convective (or 'advective') transport of water vapor. This mechanism has important consequences for the transport of any vapor in the soil air near the land-atmosphere interface.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-10
Number of pages6
JournalSoil and Tillage Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jun 2 1998

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank our colleagues, A. Prosperetti and S. Whitaker, who have helped us to understand the convective transfer mechanism. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the USDA and Superfund grant 5P42ES0469907.


  • Convective transport
  • Coupled heat and water movement
  • Water vapor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Soil Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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