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Simulation of Soil Water Content in Mediterranean Ecosystems by Biogeochemical and Remote Sensing Models

Battista, Piero, Chiesi, Marta, Fibbi, Luca, Gardin, Lorenzo, Rapi, Bernardo, Romanelli, Stefano, Romani, Maurizio, Sabatini, Francesco, Salerni, Elena, Perini, Claudia, Maselli, Fabio
Water 2018 v.10 no.5
coniferous forests, deciduous forests, ecosystems, evapotranspiration, grasslands, growing season, meteorological data, normalized difference vegetation index, remote sensing, satellites, soil water, soil water balance, soil water content
The current study assesses the potential of two modeling approaches to simulate the daily site water budget in Mediterranean ecosystems. Both models utilize a simplified one-bucket approach but are fed with different drivers. The first model, BIOME-BGC, simulates all main biogeochemical fluxes based on conventional meteorological and ancillary data, while the second uses evapotranspiration estimates derived from the combination of meteorological data and satellite normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) images. The two models were tested for three Italian sites which are characterized by different vegetation types and ecoclimatic conditions: (i) low mountain coniferous forest; (ii) hilly deciduous forest; (iii) urban grassland. The soil water balance simulated by the two models was evaluated through comparison with daily measurements of soil water content (SWC) taken during a growing season. Satisfactory results were obtained in all cases by both approaches; the SWC estimates are significantly correlated with the measurements (correlation coefficient, r, higher than 0.74), and the mean errors are lower than 0.079 cm3 cm−3. The second model, however, generally shows a higher accuracy, which is dependent on the quality of the NDVI data utilized (r higher than 0.79 and errors lower than 0.059 cm3 cm−3). The study therefore provides useful indications for the application of these and similar simulation methods in different environmental situations.