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An assessment of impacts of land-cover changes on root-zone soil moisture

Yin, Jifu, Zheng, Youfei, Zhan, Xiwu, Hain, Christopher R., Zhai, Qingfei, Duan, Changchun, Wu, Rongjun, Liu, Jicheng, Fang, Li
International journal of remote sensing 2015 v.36 no.24 pp. 6116-6134
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, carbon dioxide, cropland, drought, economic development, energy transfer, forests, grasslands, greenhouse gases, information systems, land cover, models, moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer, remote sensing, soil water, China
Land cover exerts considerable control over the exchange of energy, water, and carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases between land surface and the atmosphere. In China, dramatic land-cover changes have occurred along with rapid economic development in the past 30 years. However, research specifically on whether such land-cover changes have any influence on root-zone soil moisture in the region has started only in very recent few years. In this study, the performance of selected land-surface models (Noah 2.7.1, Noah 3.2, Common Land Model (CLM version 2.0), and Mosaic) implemented in National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)’s Land Information System (LIS version 6.1.6) is first tested using quality-controlled soil moisture observations from 108 in situ sites of the China Meteorological Administration. The best-performing model (CLM2.0) is selected to estimate the influence of land-cover changes on root-zone soil moisture, as well as drought occurrence in Yunnan Province in China. Both the 1992–1993 Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) and 2007–2010 Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Collection 5 (MODIS) land-cover products at 1 km resolution are employed to represent 1990 and 2010 land-cover status, respectively. These are verified using the local ground records of Yunnan Province over the two time periods. Their differences are considered roughly as land-cover changes occurring during the period 1990–2010. It is found that land-cover changes from primeval forest to grassland may increase root-zone soil moisture, thus reducing drought, while changes from grassland and primeval forest to cropland or reforested areas have increased the likelihood of drought.