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Physics Seminar: "Predicting the global water balance, a central problem of hydrology, ecology, and geochemistry"

Wednesday, January 15, 2020, 12:20 pm to 1:15 pm
132 Oelman Hall
Future Students
Current Students
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Dr. Allen Hunt
Wright State University
Professor of Physics


The water balance defines the fate of water landing on the terrestrial Earth as precipitation. About 2/3 is returned to the atmosphere, mostly by plants, through a process called evapotranspiration, (ET) while about 1/3 runs off. The present talk shows how to predict this partitioning using: 1) a novel treatment of (non-Gaussian) solute transport in flowing water that describes chemical weathering and soil formation, and 2) a prediction of the net primary productivity (NPP) of plants (the rate at which plants convert atmospheric carbon to biomass), 3) optimization of NPP with respect to the water fluxes into the ground and into the plants. Without any use of adjustable parameters, the lowest order theory predicts the global average ET within 1.5%. Interestingly, the solute transport theory also predicts the non-Gaussian ("Dispersive") transport of electrons in transient photoconductivity of amorphous semiconductors and polymers, providing a fundamental like to statistical mechanics through the application of percolation theory.

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