Abstract

Soil moisture dynamics reflect the complex interactions of meteorological conditions with soil, vegetation and terrain properties. In this study, intermediate-scale soil moisture estimates from the cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) method are evaluated for two semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern United States: a mesquite savanna at the Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER) and a mixed shrubland at the Jornada Experimental Range (JER). Evaluations of the CRNS method are performed for small watersheds instrumented with a distributed sensor network consisting of soil moisture sensor profiles, an eddy covariance tower, and runoff flumes used to close the water balance. We found a very good agreement between the CRNS method and the distributed sensor network (root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.009 and 0.013 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively) at the hourly timescale over the 19-month study period, primarily due to the inclusion of 5 cm observations of shallow soil moisture. Good agreement was also obtained in soil moisture changes estimated from the CRNS and watershed water balance methods (RMSE of 0.001 and 0.082 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively), with deviations due to bypassing of the CRNS measurement depth during large rainfall events. Once validated, the CRNS soil moisture estimates were used to investigate hydrological processes at the footprint scale at each site. Through the computation of the water balance, we showed that drier-than-average conditions at SRER promoted plant water uptake from deeper soil layers, while the wetter-than-average period at JER resulted in percolation towards deeper soils. The CRNS measurements were then used to quantify the link between evapotranspiration and soil moisture at a commensurate scale, finding similar predictive relations at both sites that are applicable to other semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern US.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-345
Number of pages17
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 19 2016

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cosmic ray
evapotranspiration
water budget
soil moisture
watershed
sensor
shallow soil
ecosystem
water uptake
eddy covariance
shrubland
footprint
savanna
soil
runoff
timescale
rainfall
method
vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Water Science and Technology

Cite this

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title = "Closing the water balance with cosmic-ray soil moisture measurements and assessing their relation to evapotranspiration in two semiarid watersheds",
abstract = "Soil moisture dynamics reflect the complex interactions of meteorological conditions with soil, vegetation and terrain properties. In this study, intermediate-scale soil moisture estimates from the cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) method are evaluated for two semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern United States: a mesquite savanna at the Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER) and a mixed shrubland at the Jornada Experimental Range (JER). Evaluations of the CRNS method are performed for small watersheds instrumented with a distributed sensor network consisting of soil moisture sensor profiles, an eddy covariance tower, and runoff flumes used to close the water balance. We found a very good agreement between the CRNS method and the distributed sensor network (root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.009 and 0.013 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively) at the hourly timescale over the 19-month study period, primarily due to the inclusion of 5 cm observations of shallow soil moisture. Good agreement was also obtained in soil moisture changes estimated from the CRNS and watershed water balance methods (RMSE of 0.001 and 0.082 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively), with deviations due to bypassing of the CRNS measurement depth during large rainfall events. Once validated, the CRNS soil moisture estimates were used to investigate hydrological processes at the footprint scale at each site. Through the computation of the water balance, we showed that drier-than-average conditions at SRER promoted plant water uptake from deeper soil layers, while the wetter-than-average period at JER resulted in percolation towards deeper soils. The CRNS measurements were then used to quantify the link between evapotranspiration and soil moisture at a commensurate scale, finding similar predictive relations at both sites that are applicable to other semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern US.",
author = "Schreiner-McGraw, {A. P.} and Enrique Vivoni and Giuseppe Mascaro and Franz, {T. E.}",
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T1 - Closing the water balance with cosmic-ray soil moisture measurements and assessing their relation to evapotranspiration in two semiarid watersheds

AU - Schreiner-McGraw, A. P.

AU - Vivoni, Enrique

AU - Mascaro, Giuseppe

AU - Franz, T. E.

PY - 2016/1/19

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N2 - Soil moisture dynamics reflect the complex interactions of meteorological conditions with soil, vegetation and terrain properties. In this study, intermediate-scale soil moisture estimates from the cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) method are evaluated for two semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern United States: a mesquite savanna at the Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER) and a mixed shrubland at the Jornada Experimental Range (JER). Evaluations of the CRNS method are performed for small watersheds instrumented with a distributed sensor network consisting of soil moisture sensor profiles, an eddy covariance tower, and runoff flumes used to close the water balance. We found a very good agreement between the CRNS method and the distributed sensor network (root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.009 and 0.013 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively) at the hourly timescale over the 19-month study period, primarily due to the inclusion of 5 cm observations of shallow soil moisture. Good agreement was also obtained in soil moisture changes estimated from the CRNS and watershed water balance methods (RMSE of 0.001 and 0.082 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively), with deviations due to bypassing of the CRNS measurement depth during large rainfall events. Once validated, the CRNS soil moisture estimates were used to investigate hydrological processes at the footprint scale at each site. Through the computation of the water balance, we showed that drier-than-average conditions at SRER promoted plant water uptake from deeper soil layers, while the wetter-than-average period at JER resulted in percolation towards deeper soils. The CRNS measurements were then used to quantify the link between evapotranspiration and soil moisture at a commensurate scale, finding similar predictive relations at both sites that are applicable to other semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern US.

AB - Soil moisture dynamics reflect the complex interactions of meteorological conditions with soil, vegetation and terrain properties. In this study, intermediate-scale soil moisture estimates from the cosmic-ray neutron sensing (CRNS) method are evaluated for two semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern United States: a mesquite savanna at the Santa Rita Experimental Range (SRER) and a mixed shrubland at the Jornada Experimental Range (JER). Evaluations of the CRNS method are performed for small watersheds instrumented with a distributed sensor network consisting of soil moisture sensor profiles, an eddy covariance tower, and runoff flumes used to close the water balance. We found a very good agreement between the CRNS method and the distributed sensor network (root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.009 and 0.013 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively) at the hourly timescale over the 19-month study period, primarily due to the inclusion of 5 cm observations of shallow soil moisture. Good agreement was also obtained in soil moisture changes estimated from the CRNS and watershed water balance methods (RMSE of 0.001 and 0.082 m3 m-3 at SRER and JER, respectively), with deviations due to bypassing of the CRNS measurement depth during large rainfall events. Once validated, the CRNS soil moisture estimates were used to investigate hydrological processes at the footprint scale at each site. Through the computation of the water balance, we showed that drier-than-average conditions at SRER promoted plant water uptake from deeper soil layers, while the wetter-than-average period at JER resulted in percolation towards deeper soils. The CRNS measurements were then used to quantify the link between evapotranspiration and soil moisture at a commensurate scale, finding similar predictive relations at both sites that are applicable to other semiarid ecosystems in the southwestern US.

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