Many environmental studies on the protection of European soil and water resources make use of soil water simulation models. A major obstacle to the wider application of these models is the lack of easily accessible and representative soil hydraulic properties. In order to overcome this apparent lack of data, a project was initiated to bring together the available hydraulic data which resided within different institutions in Europe into one central database. This information was then used to derive a set of pedotransfer functions applicable to studies at a European scale. These pedotransfer functions predict the hydraulic properties from parameters collected during soil surveys and can be a good alternative for costly and time-consuming direct measurement of these properties. A total of 20 institutions from 12 European countries collaborated in establishing the database of HYdraulic PRoperties of European Soils (HYPRES). This database has a flexible relational structure capable of holding a wide diversity of both soil pedological and hydraulic data. As these data were contributed by 20 different institutions it was necessary to standardise both the particle-size and the hydraulic data. A novel similarity interpolation procedure was successfully used to achieve standardization of particle-sizes according to the FAO clay, silt and sand particle-size ranges. Standardization of hydraulic data was achieved by fitting the Mualem-van Genuchten model parameters to the individual (h) and K(h) hydraulic properties stored in HYPRES. The HYPRES database contains information on a total of 5521 soil horizons (including replicates). Of these, 4030 horizons had sufficient data to be used in the derivation of pedotransfer functions. Information on both water retention and hydraulic conductivity was available for 1136 horizons whereas 2894 horizons had only information on water retention. Each soil horizon was allocated to one of 11 possible soil textural/pedological classes derived from the six FAO texture classes (five mineral and one organic) and the two pedological classes (topsoil and subsoil) recognised within the 1:1&unknown;000&unknown;000 scale Soil Geographical Data Base of Europe. Next, both class and continuous pedotransfer functions were developed. By using the class pedotransfer functions in combination with the 1:1&unknown;000&unknown;000 scale Soil Map of Europe, the spatial distribution of soil water availability within Europe was derived.
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