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Effects of rainfall intensity and intermittency on woody vegetation cover and deep soil moisture in dryland ecosystems
- Zhang, Ding-Hai, Li, Xin-Rong, Zhang, Feng, Zhang, Zhi-Shan, Chen, Yong-Le
- Journal of hydrology 2016 v.543 pp. 270-282
- arid lands, climate change, ecosystems, models, rain, rain intensity, semiarid zones, soil water, vegetation cover, wood
- Identifying the relationship between the stochastic daily rainfall regime and the dynamics of plants and soil moisture is fundamental for the sustainable management of dryland ecosystems in a context of global climate change. An eco-hydrological model that couples the dynamics of woody vegetation cover and deep soil moisture (typically with a depth interval of 30–150cm) was used to investigate the effect of stochastic intensity and the intermittency of precipitation on soil moisture in this deep interval, which affects woody vegetation cover. Our results suggest that the precipitation intensity and intermittency play an important role in the dynamics of wood vegetation cover and deep soil moisture. In arid and semiarid regions, as the annual precipitation increased, the rate of woody vegetation cover increased as a power-law function, and the deep soil moisture increased exponentially. For a given annual rainfall, there were positive correlations between the rainfall intensity (or rainfall intermittency) and both the woody vegetation cover and deep soil moisture. The positive correlations between wood vegetation cover and both rainfall intensity and intermittency may decrease with increases in the precipitation intensity or precipitation intermittency. The positive correlations between deep soil moisture and both rainfall intensity and rainfall intermittency increase as the precipitation intensity or precipitation intermittency increases. Moreover, these positive correlations may increase with increases in the mean annual rainfall. Our results emphasize the importance of daily precipitation variations in controlling the responses of woody vegetation cover and deep soil moisture to climate variations in arid and semiarid regions. Our model can aid the understanding of rainfall processes and indicates that increases in rainfall intensity or rainfall intermittency may lead to an increase in woody vegetation cover and deep soil moisture given an invariable annual rainfall regime in dryland ecosystems.