Leerstoelgroep Wiskundige en statistische methoden
Multi-compartment samplers (MCSs) measure unsaturated solute transport in space and time at a given depth. Sorting the breakthrough curves (BTCs) for individual compartments in descending order of total solute amount and plotting in 3D produces the leaching surface. The leaching surface is a useful tool to organize, present, and analyze MCS data. We present a novel method to quantitatively characterize leaching surfaces. We fitted a mean pore-water velocity and a dispersion coefficient to each BTC, and then approximated their values by functions of the rank order of the BTCs. By combining the parameters of these functions with those of the Beta distribution fitted to the spatial distribution of solutes, we described an entire leaching surface by four to eight parameters. This direct characterization method allows trends to be subtracted from the observations, and incorporates the effects of local heterogeneity. The parametric fit creates the possibility to quantify concisely the leaching behavior of a soil in a given climate under given land use, and eases the quantitative comparison of spatio-temporal leaching behavior in different soils and climates.