Title: An Underestimated Role of Precipitation Frequency in Regulating Summer Soil Moisture
Authors: CHAOYANG WUCHEN JING M.PUMPANEN JUKKACESCATTI ALESSANDROMARCOLLA BARBARABLANKEN PETERARDO JONASTANG YANHONGMAGLIULO VINZENZOGEORGIADIS T.SOEGAARD HENRIKCOOK D. R.HARDING RICHARD J
Citation: ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS vol. 7 no. 2 p. 024011
Publisher: IOP PUBLISHING LTD
Publication Year: 2012
JRC N°: JRC70544
ISSN: 1748-9326 (online)
URI: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/7/2/024011
http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC70544
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/7/2/024011
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Soil moisture induced droughts are expected to become more frequent under future global climate change. Precipitation has been previously assumed to be mainly responsible for variability in summer soil moisture. However, little is known about the impacts of precipitation frequency on summer soil moisture, either interannually or spatially. To better understand the temporal and spatial drivers of summer drought, 415 site-years measurements observed at 75 flux sites world wide were used to analyze the temporal and spatial relationships between summer soil water content (SWC) and the precipitation frequencies at various temporal scales, i.e., from half-hourly, 3-hourly, 6-hourly, 12-hourly and 24-hourly measurements. Summer precipitation was found to be an indicator of interannual SWC variability with r of 0.49 (p<0.001) for the overall dataset. However, interannual variability in summer SWC was also significantly correlated with the five precipitation frequencies and the sub-daily precipitation frequencies seemed to explain more interannual SWC variability than the total of precipitation. Spatially, all these precipitation frequencies were better indicators of summer SWC than precipitation totals, whereas these better performances were only observed in non-forest ecosystems. Our results demonstrate that precipitation frequency may play an important role in regulating both interannual and spatial variations of summer SWC, which has probably been overlooked or underestimated. However, the spatial interpretation should carefully consider other factors, such as the plant functional types and soil characteristics of diverse ecoregions.
JRC Directorate:Space, Security and Migration

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