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T1 Role of dust and solid waste on water and contaminant transport processes at the pavement-water interface

Doctoral student: Anne Timm

Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Gerd Wessolek, Prof. Dr. Martin Jekel, PD Dr. Bettina Detmann (Albers)


Urban land surfaces drastically differ from natural ones, as soil and vegetation is replaced by buildings and other artificial materials. Most noticeably, paving of streets and sidewalks in order to facilitate urban life, creates a distinct urban soil-atmosphere interface with altered water and heat transport processes. This impacts the urban climate and urban water cycle, both of which affect urban dwellers in many ways. Few projects studied these processes in detail and many models make use of simplifications that may not accurately represent these surfaces.


The main aim of project T1 is to improve our understanding and modelling of the water and heat transport of partially sealed surfaces. We aim to develop a simple yet accurate formula to estimate evaporation of partially sealed surfaces using commonly recorded meteorological data.


Two weighable lysimeters with typical sidewalk materials (one with cobblestones, one with concrete plates, see Fig. 1 & Fig. 2) are operated under natural meteorological conditions in Berlin, Germany. They provide hourly data of precipitation, runoff, infiltration and evaporation, as well as depth profiles of soil water content and temperature. Together with a meteorological station installed right next to the lysimeters, this yields a detailed and substantial data set to analyse the water and heat transport of paved surfaces. In a next step, these insights into relevant processes will be used to develop an evaporation estimation formula using only the recorded meteorological data and surface properties. The formula will be calibrated using the evaporation rates logged by the lysimeters.

Figure 1: Two lysimeters with partially sealed urban surfaces studied in projects T1 and N2.
Figure 2: Setup of the two lysimeters used in projects T1 and N2.


First results confirm that evaporation and infiltration play an important role in the hydrological balance of partially sealed surfaces and exceed runoff. Evaporation on days without precipitation indicates more upward water transport than previously reported in other studies. Some results after six months of measurement were presented at the EGU and SUITMA 9 conference in 2017. The poster presented at the SUITMA 9 conference can be downloaded here:




Initial project plan

Zusatzinformationen / Extras


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