Unsaturated Zone

About the Technical Committee

The unsaturated (or vadose) zone is critical in the partitioning of incident precipitation into run-off, storage, recharge, or evaporation. It is also the zone mainly impacting agricultural operations. The Unsaturated Zone Technical Committee works towards synergizing research activities on the various topics related to the unsaturated zone, and to highlight key issues, solutions, results, and researchers.

The unsaturated zone (UZ) community has been focused on the fundamental processes that govern flow and transport processes in the vadose zone and their engineering applications. Increasingly, we realize that these processes play a vital role in regulating subsurface biological and geochemical dynamics as well as land-surface processes. Therefore, the community has endeavored to form tighter partnerships with bio-geo-sciences and atmospheric and climate science in addressing contemporary challenges in water, climate, and food. Three critical questions that are of relevance to UZ are: 

  1. How do small-scale processes and heterogeneities in the unsaturated zone influence and regulate fluxes within and across the UZ across multiple spatial and temporal scales?
  2. How do resiliency and thresholds of UZ processes respond to anthropogenic disturbances, and how do they vary across climates, biomes, and geological settings?
  3. How can we harness the full potential of rapid advances in data science as well as communication and measurement technologies in developing predictions and decision support tools that benefit society?


Open Positions - Subsurface Environmental Processes group Eawag - ETH Zurich

We are seeking a dynamic and motivated doctoral student to work on a project at the interface between physics and microbial ecology. The Ph.D. candidate will develop microfluidic tools and implement advanced microscopy techniques to study microbial behavior in heterogeneous hydrodynamic and chemical landscapes. The project is a collaboration with the Stocker Lab led by Roman Stocker at ETH Zurich and is funded by the EU's Innovative Training Network (ITN) Control Prediction and LeaRning in Mixing processes (CoPerMix). The candidate should have a strong quantitative background in biophysics or engineering, and a desire to combine experimental work with mathematical modeling.

ITN3 https://jobs.ethz.ch/job/view/JOPG_ethz_yeaqdmp1OBad0A1f2F


Postdoctoral position on MICROBIAL BEHAVIOR IN SOIL. 
We are seeking a dynamic and motivated postdoctoral researcher to develop experimental work at the interface between biology, soft matter, and physics and help advise junior scientists on experimental. The project is a collaboration with the Stocker Lab led by Roman Stocker at ETH Zurich. The candidate should have a strong quantitative background, extensive expertise in soil (porous media) processes, and a track record of experimental research.

Postdoc https://jobs.ethz.ch/job/view/JOPG_ethz_n3tJP49rOq21gZ0Fr8

Change of guard, 2020

In keeping with the AGU Hydrology Section Technical Committee tradition, Yusong Li has stepped down as Chair of the Unsaturated Zone TC after an excellent two years at the helm. The committee members thank Yusong for her outstanding service to the committee and to the UZ community in general. We hope to see more of her as a continuing member of the UZ TC.

Joaquin Jimenez-Martinez now takes over as Chair, and Veronica Morales as Deputy Chair. We wish them Good Luck! Hope to see the UZ TC becoming more active under their leadership.

Unsaturated Zone Mini Awards 2020

Based on the evaluations from conveners of the Environmental Vadose Zone Hydrology Session at the 2020 AGU Fall Meeting, the following outstanding student presenters were selected* for the Unsaturated Zone Hydrology Mini Awards

First Place ($300)
Tom DeBell
, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Presentation title: Enhanced Hydrologic Monitoring using Fiber Optics - Implementing Distributed Temperature Sensing to Uncover Flow Paths and Groundwater Interactions in Stormwater Conveyance Structures

Second Place ($200)
Abdullah Mamun
, Clemson University, SC
Presentation title: Evaluating the ability of dual domain models to capture the water content evolution observed in the macropore and matrix regions of a soil by x-ray CT imaging during an infiltration experiment

Congratulations to the winners!!

Technical Committee Meeting

The Unsaturated Zone Technical Committee convened virtually via Zoom for its annual meeting on Monday, 21 December 2020

Minutes of the meeting are available here.

Unsaturated Zone Mini Awards 2019

Based on the evaluations from conveners of the Environmental Vadose Zone Hydrology Session at the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting, three outstanding student presenters were selected* for the Unsaturated Zone Hydrology Mini Awards

First Place ($300)
Lucie Guertault
, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
In-situ experiments and quantification of the influence of preferential subsurface flow on water and contaminant transfer through riparian buffers

Second Place ($200)
Bo Gao
, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
H53N-2002Study of Evaporation and Boundary Layer Development from Permeable Undulating Soil Surfaces under Turbulent Airflow  

Third Place (Honorable Mention)
Philip M McGuire
, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
H53N-1999Biofilter Woodchip Media Harbor Trapped Gas Phases in the Internal Woodchip Pore Structure that Affect Transport and Atmospheric Flux of Biogenic Greenhouse Gases 

Congratulations to the winners!!


* Should any of the top two winners receive an AGU OSPA award ($125 check), the committee will augment $175 (to the first-place winner) or $75 (to the second-place winner). Any funds left over will be used to award the third place.

Technical Committee Meeting

The Unsaturated Zone Technical Committee convened during the 2019 AGU Fall Meeting. 

Time: 6:45am – 7:45am

Date: Monday, 9 December

Venue: Marriott Marquis, Nob Hill A, Lower B2

Minutes of the meeting are available here.

Mini Award

The Unsaturated Zone Technical Committee is excited to announce, with the help of the Hydrology Section leadership, a new award for the two top-rated OSPA entries from the Environmental Vadose Zone Hydrology session (H053-1) at the 2019 Fall Meeting with cash prizes! The awards will be in the amount of $300 to the first placed presenter, and $200 to the second. The presentations will be ranked based on the OSPA judges' evaluation scores.


The Committee

The Committee takes an active role in directing the unsaturated zone research community within AGU. 
Please contact the Chair if you are interested in becoming involved with this committee.

Joaquin Jimenez-Martinez (Chair), Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology
Veronica Morales (Deputy Chair), University of California – Davis
Yusong Li (Past Chair), University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Teamrat A. Ghezzehei, University of California, Merced
Thomas Phelan, U.S. Air Force Academy
Raghavendra B. Jana (Director - Communications), Skoltech, Russia
Manoj Shukla, New Mexico State University
Thomas Harter, University of California – Davis
Joshua Larsen, University of Queensland, Australia
Kathleen M. Smits, University of Texas, Arlington
Clare Robinson, University of Western Ontario
Wei Zhang, Michigan State University
Chadi Sayde, Oregon State University
Ryan Stewart, Virginia Tech
Lirong Zhong, Pacific Northwest National Lab
Jason Gurdak, San Francisco State University
Ian Molnar, University of Edinburgh
Nandita Gaur, University of Georgia
Bo Gao, Colorado School of Mines
Bo Guo, University of Arizona
Zhen Li, Colorado School of Mines
Shahab Karimifard (Student Member), University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Zoe Kanavas (Student Member), University of California – Davis

Brief bio's of the committee members can be found here.