During the last few decades hydrologists have made significant progress toward applying physically based simulation models for the analysis and understanding of field-scale flow and transport phenomena in the vadose zone. This progress has been enabled in part by the development of advanced parameter estimation and uncertainty assessment methods such as statistically based pedotransfer functions and multidimensional inverse modeling techniques. However, even the most elaborate physically based model cannot capture the complex heterogeneity and interactions between spatially distributed water, plant, and atmospheric components of the unsaturated flow system. These will always need to be abstracted into models characterized by...

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