Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Monsoon dependent ecosystems: Implications of the vertical distribution of soil moisture on land surface-atmosphere interactions
by Sanchez-Mejia, Zulia M., Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2013, 186; 3590060
Abstract (Summary)

Uncertainty of predicted change in precipitation frequency and intensity motivates the scientific community to better understand, quantify, and model the possible outcome of dryland ecosystems. In pulse dependent ecosystems (i.e. monsoon driven) soil moisture is tightly linked to atmospheric processes. Here, I analyze three overarching questions; Q1) How does soil moisture presence or absence in a shallow or deep layer influence the surface energy budget and planetary boundary layer characteristics?, Q2) What is the role of vegetation on ecosystem albedo in the presence or absence of deep soil moisture?, Q3) Can we develop empirical relationships between soil moisture and the planetary boundary layer height to help evaluate the role of future precipitation changes in land surface atmosphere interactions? . To address these questions I use a conceptual framework based on the presence or absence of soil moisture in a shallow or deep layer. I define these layers by using root profiles and establish soil moisture thresholds for each layer using four years of observations from the Santa Rita Creosote Ameriflux site. Soil moisture drydown curves were used to establish the shallow layer threshold in the shallow layer, while NEE (Net Ecosystem Exchange of carbon dioxide) was used to define the deep soil moisture threshold. Four cases were generated using these thresholds: Case 1, dry shallow layer and dry deep layer; Case 2, wet shallow layer and dry deep layer; Case 3, wet shallow layer and wet deep layer, and Case 4 dry shallow and wet deep layer. Using this framework, I related data from the Ameriflux site SRC (Santa Rita Creosote) from 2008 to 2012 and from atmospheric soundings from the nearby Tucson Airport; conducted field campaigns during 2011 and 2012 to measure albedo from individual bare and canopy patches that were then evaluated in a grid to estimate the influence of deep moisture on albedo via vegetation cover change; and evaluated the potential of using a two-layer bucket model and empirical relationships to evaluate the link between deep soil moisture and the planetary boundary layer height under changing precipitation regime. My results indicate that (1) the presence or absence of water in two layers plays a role in surface energy dynamics, (2) soil moisture presence in the deep layer is linked with decreased ecosystem albedo and planetary boundary layer height, (3) deep moisture sustains vegetation greenness and decreases albedo, and (4) empirical relationships are useful in modeling planetary boundary layer height from dryland ecosystems. Based on these results we argue that deep soil moisture plays an important role in land surface-atmosphere interactions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Papuga, Shirley A.
Commitee: Archer, Steve, Dominguez, Francina, Zeng, Xubin, van Leeuwen, Willem
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Natural Resources
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 74/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Ecology, Hydrologic sciences, Atmospheric sciences
Keywords: Albedo, Creosote bush, Eddy covariance, Land surface - atmosphere interactions, Larrea tridentata, Santa rita experimental range
Publication Number: 3590060
ISBN: 9781303292804
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