Department of Soil Physics
Head of the Department
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Vogel
phone: +49 345 558-5202
fax: +49 345 558-5559
06120 Halle, Germany
Soil is the earths' porous skin at the interface between the atmosphere and the geosphere. It acts as reservoir, filter and reactor. These functions are immediately linked to the processes of water flow and mass transport. Soil physics at UFZ is focused on the quantitative understanding of water and mass fluxes at a scale between millimeters and kilometers, ranging from the pore-scale to the field. We seek to improve our quantitative understanding by means of model development along with experimental investigations.
One challenge is how to adequately handle the inherent spatial heterogeneity and the temporal dynamics of soil properties. As a consequence of the boundary conditions, soil exhibits structures which are relevant for flow and transport, irrespective the spatial scale: ranging from micropores between the soil grains, through aggregates, soil horizons and far-reaching macropores to the distribution pattern of different soil types in the field. These structures govern the residence time and transport velocities of substances in soil.
A second challenge is how to represent small scale features and processes at the larger scale to arrive at meaningful process models. We need models that are neither "too good to be real" nor "too real to be good", for a quantitative understanding of soil as an essential compartment of our natural environment.