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Making the system soil-water-atmosphere-plant tangible.

The system soil-water-atmosphere-plant is of central importance in geoecological education. At the same time it is inherently characterised by complex interacting, non-linear processes. In many cases, the complexity and the abstract situation of limited observability hinder an approach to the subject. Furthermore, processes such as infiltration, water redistribution, root water uptake and solute transport in the soil column can only be portrayed with complex measurements and sophisticated models. Guided and open investigations by students have therefore hardly been possible so far.

We propose to create a directly tangible access to an exemplary soil-water-plant-atmosphere system by developing a real model system in the laboratory, a virtual twin as a numerical model and connecting them via a web application for exploration and teaching. The touchSWAP CrossLab is planned to consist of a laboratory lysimeter with a connection to a Streamlit web app for retrieving state data, for controlling boundary conditions and with a virtual model environment for using the data in models and for planning and conducting experiments.

Didactically, the system will be set up as a playful environment for hypothesis- and model-based experiments. It will be used in the course modules Pedology and Hydropedological System and Process Analysis. The open access and open source development should invite other interested parties to try it out and develop it further.


TU Bergakademie Freiberg
AG Strömungs- & Transportmodellierung

funded by Logo Stiftung Innovation in der Hochschule