the real rate of evapotranspiration from a land surface.
the two physically allowable water depths for flow in a channel for a given specific energy and a given specific discharge.
a material whose properties (such as intrinsic permeability) depend on the direction of measurement.
a saturated geological formation that may contain water but does not transmit significant quantities.
a saturated geological formation that contains and transmits significant quantities of water under normal field conditions.
an experiment designed to measure the in situ properties of an aquifer, based on the response of the water level in a well to pumping or injecting water.
a saturated geological formation that neither contains nor transmits significant quantities of water.
see confined aquifer.
The average velocity [L T-1] of fluid within the pores of a porous medium, equal to the specific discharge divided by the porosity.
background low-flow conditions in a stream.
the ratio of basin length (the direction parallel to flow) to basin depth or thickness (above a low-permeability unit).
Stating that the sum of the pressure, elevation, and velocity heads in a frictionless fluid is constant along a streamline.
forces that act uniformly on each fluid element; examples include gravitational forces and electromagnetic forces.
B [dimensionless], the ratio of the sensible heatflux (H) to the latent heat flux (El).
coarse layers of sediments that impede the movement of water under unsaturated conditions.
forces that are exerted on soil water due to the strong attraction of water by soil minerals; see capillary-pressure head.
the zone immediately above the water table in which the pores are filled with water but the water is under pressure less than atmospheric.
y [L], the (negative) pressure head in the unsaturated zone that develops across curved air-water menisci because water is attracted more strongly to soil minerals than it is to other water molecules.
an area of land, bounded by a divide, in which water flowing across the surface will drain into a stream or river and flow out of the area through a specified point on that stream or river.
An equation relating channel mean velocity to channel slope and hydraulic radius via a roughness coefficient C called the Chézy number.
C [L1/2 T-1], an empirical roughness coefficient used in the Chézy equation describing open channel flow.
a physical process occurring in clouds by which falling drops of water repeatedly collide with other drops or droplets, thus forming larger drops.
a permeable formation whose upper boundary is an aquitard; water in a well within a confined aquifer will rise above the top of the aquifer.
The law that states that for any particular compartment (usually referred to as a control volume), the time rate of change of mass stored within the compartment is equal to the difference between the inflow rate and the outflow rate.
an expression of conservation of mass in a flow, stating that the inflow rate minus the outflow rate equals the change in storage.
the spatial component of acceleration at a fixed time.
flow that occurs at the minimum value of specific energy allowed for a given. The Froude number equals 1 for critical flow.
states that the specific discharge through a porous medium is proportional to the hydraulic gradient.
r [M L-3], the mass per unit volume of a substance, defined at a point.
Q = UA [L3 T-1], the volume flux of water.
a region in which groundwater is moving upward across the water table, thereby discharging into the unsaturated zone above, or to the land surface or a surface-water body such as a lake or stream.
the boundary of a catchment. Typically topographic highs or ridges, a divide separates an area of land that should drain toward a particular point on a stream or river from surrounding land areas that do not.
the change in water level in a pumping well or nearby observation well or piezometer.
se [M L-1 T-2], an upward stress (force per unit area) exerted by aquifer solids in the subsurface.
z [L], a component of the total head that may be thought of as the potential energy per unit fluid weight.
a line of constant hydraulic head; equipotentials and streamlines together constitute a flow net.
the physical process involving a phase change from liquid to vapor by which water is returned to the atmosphere.
et [L T-1], the sum of all processes by which water changes phase (from solid or liquid) to vapor and is returned to the atmosphere.
[dimensionless], the relative frequency associated with a random variable attaining a value greater than some specified value.
the relatively constant moisture content that a sandy soil tends to attain following drainage.
a peak in stream discharge due to inflow of water following a rain or snowmelt event.
determination of river discharge at a point based on knowledge of the discharge at some upstream location (inflow) and the characteristics of the intervening river channel or reservoir.
a two-dimensional map of equipotentials (lines of constant hydraulic head) and streamlines in a region of groundwater flow.
a substance that has no resistance to deformation when subjected to a shearing force.
the upper boundary of an open channel flow, between the water and the atmosphere.
a statistical technique used by hydrologists for estimating the average rate at which floods, droughts, storms, stores, rainfall events, etc., of a specified magnitude recur.
f [dimensionless], an empirically determined, dimensionless quantity relating head loss to flow properties such as velocity and diameter or depth [U2L/(2gD) for pipe flow]. A friction factor diagram gives values of friction factor f as a function of Reynolds number.
the slope of the imaginary line that is a distance U2/2g above the water surface in an open channel.
a dimensionless number that is used to define critical, subcritical, and supercritical flows in channels.
the fluid pressure relative to atmospheric pressure. The absolute pressure is the sum of the gage pressure and atmospheric pressure.
a facility installed at a selected river site to collect long-term records of flow depth as a function of time.
water found in the saturated zone of the subsurface.
an impermeable vertical or near-vertical boundary separating groundwater flow systems.
a decline in groundwater input to a stream through time.
hL [L], the loss in head due to friction within the fluid and between the fluid and the side walls of a pipe or channel.
the condition of spatial variation in physical properties; often applied to the intrinsic permeability of rocks and soil.
the spatial constancy of physical properties, such as density or intrinsic permeability.
K = k(rg/m) [L T-1], the ability of a porous medium to transmit fluid, dependent on both fluid and porous medium properties.
dh/dl [dimensionless], the change in hydraulic head per unit distance; the driving force in flow through porous media.
h = (p/rg) + z [L], the mechanical energy per unit fluid weight, used in the study of flow through porous media.
RH [L], the ratio of the cross-sectional area of flow in a channel to the wetted perimeter.
a continuous record of streamflow (stage or discharge) as a function of time.
the global-scale, endless recirculatory process linking water in the atmosphere, on the continents, and in the oceans.
the study of the occurrence and movement of water on and beneath the surface of the Earth, the properties of water, and its relationship with the living and material components of the environment.
an equation describing the relationship between pressure and depth in a fluid at rest. For a homogeneous fluid, the hydrostatic equation is p = rgd.
a graph of precipitation versus time.
the loop-like curve that relates pairs of hydraulic properties of an unsaturated porous medium because volumetric moisture content, capillary-pressure head, and hydraulic conductivity covary along different curves depending on whether the soil is imbibing water or draining.
a fluid for which density is not a function of pressure.
the movement of rain or melting snow into the soil at the Earth's surface.
the maximum rate at which water can infiltrate into a soil.
also known as Hortonian overland flow (after its proponent, Robert Horton), a mechanism of runoff generation in which the infiltration capacity of a catchment or portion of a catchment is exceeded by the rainfall intensity, which results in ponding of precipitation at the soil surface and flow across the surface either in sheets or in small rivulets.
a device to measure infiltration rates with water ponded inside a ring driven into the ground.
the process by which precipitation (either liquid or solid or both) is temporarily stored either on vegetation surfaces (canopy interception) or on litter surfaces (litter interception); intercepted water either can return to the atmosphere as evaporation or can become stemflow or throughfall.
a groundwater flow system that is smaller than a regional flow system and that is characterized by flow from a water-table high to a non-adjacent water-table low.
Eu [M L2 T-2], the component of the total energy of a substance that is due to the kinetic and potential energy of the individual molecules.
k = K(m/rg) [L2], the ability of a porous medium to transmit fluid, independent of the fluid properties.
line of equal precipitation, in the isohyetal method of estimating areal precipitation.
a technique for estimating areal precipitation to a catchment based on representing precipitation structure using lines of equal precipitation known as isohyets.
a material whose properties (such as intrinsic permeability) do not depend on the direction of measurement.
a smooth, regular flow in which disturbances are damped out by viscous forces. Laminar flows in pipes and channels occur at Reynolds numbers less than 2000 and 500, respectively.
the decline of the land surface produced by pumping groundwater wells.
an expression of conservation of mass combined with Darcy's law that describes steady two-dimensional groundwater flow in a homogeneous region. Flow nets are graphical solutions to the Laplace equation.
[M L2 T-2], the portion of the internal energy of a substance that cannot be "sensed" (i.e., is not proportional to absolute temperature); latent heat is the internal energy that is released or absorbed during a phase change at constant temperature.
El [M T-3], the rate per unit area at which latent heat is transferred to the atmosphere.
lv [L2 T-2], the amount of energy per unit mass absorbed during a phase change from liquid to vapor at constant temperature. For evaporation of water at 0°C, lv = 2.5¥106 J kg-1.
an aquifer that is not perfectly confined, but that has leakage across the surrounding confining layers.
the change of velocity with time at a fixed location, [L T-2].
a groundwater flow system characterized by flow from a water-table high to an adjacent low.
a relatively large pore, such as a soil pipe, animal burrow or shrinkage crack, in an otherwise fine-grained soil.
n [dimensionless], an empirical channel roughness used in Manning's equation describing open channel flow.
an equation commonly used to calculate channel mean velocity, based on channel geometry and roughness; n is the Manning coefficient.
a device used to measure fluid pressure, consisting of a tube filled with fluid and open at one end; the hydrostatic equation is used to relate the pressure at the open end to an unknown pressure at the measurement point.
U = Q/A [L T-1], the cross-sectionally averaged fluid velocity.
the relationship between moisture content and capillary-pressure head for a porous medium.
a numerical method for routing a flood through a river channel. Given an inflow hydrograph, the method predicts the outflow hydrograph for a given stream reach.
the average rate of discharge from a basin under natural or undisturbed conditions (i.e., in the absence of anthropogenic groundwater withdrawals or changes in climate or vegetation).
a force per unit area oriented perpendicular to a surface of a fluid or solid object. Pressure is a normal stress.
a method for solving equations by transforming them into one or more algebraic equations that can be solved more easily than the original equation, usually on a computer.
a device used to measure the flow rate through and the hydraulic conductivity of a porous medium.
a single tube manometer used to measure pressure head (and thereby hydraulic head) at a point in the subsurface.
an equation for the velocity of a laminar pipe flow.
f = Vv/Vt [dimensionless], the fraction of the total volume of a porous medium occupied by void space.
a rock, sediment, or soil that contains pores or void spaces.
PET, the maximum rate of evapotranspiration from a vegetated catchment under conditions of unlimited moisture supply.
a surface which depicts the distribution of hydraulic heads in a confined aquifer; the water in a well or piezometer penetrating a confined aquifer defines the surface.
the dominant process by which water vapor in the atmosphere is returned to the Earth's surface either as liquid drops (e.g., rain) or solid particles (e.g., snow) under the influence of gravity.
[L T-1], a measure of the rate of precipitation, commonly computed for a specified duration.
p [M L-1 T-2], the force per unit area acting perpendicular to a surface, or normal stress.
a component of the total head that may be thought of as the "flow work" or the work due to pressure per unit fluid weight [L].
one of two components into which a flood hydrograph can be separated (the other is known as baseflow).
a relationship between stage and discharge used to convert continuous measurements of stream depth (stage hydrograph) to a discharge hydrograph.
a segment of a stream or river channel.
a region in which water is crossing the water table downward, hence recharging the groundwater system.
a groundwater flow system characterized by flow from a regional water-table high to a regional water-table low.
Tr = V/I [T], a measure of the average time a molecule of water spends in a reservoir. The residence time defined for steady-state systems is equal to the reservoir volume divided by the inflow or outflow rate.
the process by which groundwater reemerges from the soil at a saturated area and flows downslope as overland flow.
Treturn [T], a measure of how often (on average) an event (precipitation, flood, etc.) will occur that is greater than some chosen value; the inverse of the exceedance probability.
R = rUD/m [dimensionless], a dimensionless number representing the ratio of inertial to viscous forces in a flow. Flows with low Reynolds numbers (< 2000 for pipe flow) are laminar; flows with high Reynolds numbers (> 4000 for pipe flow) are turbulent. Flows of different fluids with the same Reynolds number will be similar.
an expression of mass conservation in the unsaturated zone, incorporating Darcy's law. Solutions to the Richards' equation provide a history of the pressure distribution in a vertical soil column.
the ratio of average annual surface runoff to average annual precipitation for a given land area .
a region of the subsurface where pores are completely filled with water; the saturated zone is bounded at the top by the water table.
a mechanism of runoff generation that is particularly important in vegetated catchments in humid regions in which a shallow water table intersects the ground surface, causing ponding of water at the soil surface and flow across the surface either in sheets or in small rivulets.
the volumetric moisture content when all pores of a soil or rock are filled with water.
esat [M L-1 T-2], in a system in which both liquid water and water vapor are present, the partial pressure exerted by the water vapor during an equilibrium condition in which the rates of vaporization and condensation are equal.
[M L2 T-2], that portion of the internal energy of a substance that can be sensed (i.e., is proportional to absolute temperature).
a mechanism of runoff generation whereby water flows through a shallow, permeable soil horizon, such as when a perched water table forms above a layer of the soil with low permeability; some of the flow may occur along preferred pathways known as macropores.
t [M L-1 T-2], a tangential force per unit area acting on the surface of a solid or fluid.
a soil layer defined on the basis of physical and chemical properties and on the history of its formation.
water that is held in soils and rocks under pressures less than atmospheric; water in the unsaturated zone.
the discharge per unit width of channel in a rectangular open channel, qw = Q/w = Uh [L2 T-1].
the discharge per unit cross-sectional area of flow through porous media, q = Q/A [L T-1].
the energy per unit weight of water in a channel with respect to the channel bottom as datu[L]. The total energy H [L] is the sum of the bottom elevation and the specific energy.
a graph of specific energy versus water depth for a given specific discharge. The diagram shows the physically allowable water depths for a given specific discharge and a given specific energy.
cp [L2 Q-1 T-2], a proportionality constant that relates the change in internal energy of a substance to a change in absolute temperature.
Sy [dimensionless], the volume of water produced from an unconfined aquifer per unit aquifer area per unit decline in the water table.
the depth of flow in a stream.
a flow that is constant in time at each location in the flow. In steady flow, the local acceleration is zero.
a physical process by which water is transferred from interception storage to the soil surface by flowing along the stem or trunk of a tree.
tiny pores in the leaves of vascular plants by which gases (including carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water) are exchanged with the atmosphere.
S [dimensionless], the volume of water produced from a confined aquifer per unit aquifer area per unit decline in the potentiometric surface.
a path defined by the motion of fluid elements in a flow; at any point along a streamline, the flow direction is tangent to the streamline. Conceptually, water may not cross streamlines. In describing groundwater flow, streamlines and equipotentials together constitute a flow net.
a region within a flow net between two streamlines.
a force per unit area (SI units: N m-2 or Pa).
the (relatively) deep and slow flow corresponding to a given specific energy and a given specific discharge. The Froude number is less than unity for subcritical flow.
the physical process by which water in the solid phase changes to water vapor and is directly returned to the atmosphere.
the (relatively) shallow and rapid flow corresponding to a given specific energy and a given specific discharge. The Froude number exceeds unity for supercritical flow.
forces that act through direct contact on specific surfaces of a fluid or solid body.
a device for measuring negative capillary-pressure heads in soils.
a physical process by which water is transferred from interception storage to the soil surface by dripping off the leaves of the canopy.
a method for measuring soil moisture by timing the movement of a high-frequency electromagnetic wave reflected from the open end of two steel rods inserted into the soil.
a hydrological catchment model based on land-surface topography.
where a is the upslope contributing area per contour length and tanb is the local slope; used by the catchment model TOPMODEL to calculate the water balance for individual blocks within a catchment.
H [L], the sum of the pressure, elevation, and velocity heads in a frictionless fluid.
sT [M L-1 T-2], the weight (a force) of material overlying a plane of unit cross-sectional area in the subsurface.
T = Kb [L2 T-1], a measure of the ability of an aquifer of thickness b to transmit water.
the physical process by which water changes phase from liquid to vapor, is released through the stomata of a plant, and returns to the atmosphere.
flow with rapid, irregular fluctuations of velocity in space and time. Turbulent flows in pipes and channels occur at large Reynolds numbers.
a permeable formation whose upper boundary is the water table.
a flow that does not changing from place to place along the flow path; the convective acceleration is zero.
g [M L-2 T-2], the gravitational force per unit volume, rg, acting on a fluid or solid (SI units: N m-3).
the zone in a soil or rock between the Earth's surface and the water table; pores in the unsaturated zone are partly filled with water and partly filled with air.
see unsaturated zone.
e [M L-1T-2], the actual partial pressure exerted by a vapor within an air mass; related to the concentration of water vapor in air.
the idea that catchment areas where saturation-excess overland flow develops expand and contract with time over a storm.
a component of the total head that may be thought of as the kinetic energy per unit fluid weight [L].
the variation of velocity with distance away from a boundary.
m [M L-1T-1], a measure of a fluid's ability to resist deformation. Fluids of high viscosity flow more slowly than low viscosity fluids, everything else being equal (SI units: Pa·s).
q [dimensionless], the volume of water held in a soil or rock per bulk volume of the sample.
a calculation of the inflows, outflows, and change in storage for a particular control volume (such as a lake or a catchment) over a particular time period.
a surface separating the saturated and unsaturated zones of the subsurface, defined as a surface at which the fluid pressure is atmospheric (or zero gage pressure).
see unconfined aquifer.
an artificial obstruction such as a step or dam over which all the water in a channel must flow, and that can be used to measure stream discharge.
a record of the variation in water level in a well through time.
Last modified: Oct 15, 1999
VG Model / Samuel Lee / VADOSE.NET