06 Feb 2024
 | 06 Feb 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Effects of changes in climatic conditions on soil water storage patterns

Annelie Ehrhardt, Jannis S. Groh, and Horst H. Gerke

Abstract. The soil water storage (SWS) defines crop productivity of a soil and varies under differing climatic conditions. Pattern identification and quantification of these variations remains difficult due to the non-linear behaviour of SWS changes over time.

We hypothesize that these patterns can be revealed by applying wavelet analysis to an eight-year time series of SWS, precipitation (P) and actual evapotranspiration (ETa) in similar soils of lysimeters in a colder and drier location and a warmer and wetter location within Germany. Correlations between SWS, P and ETa at these sites might reveal the influence of altered climatic conditions but also from subsequent wet and dry years on SWS changes.

We found that wet and dry years exerted influence on SWS changes by leading to faster or slower response times of SWS changes to precipitation in respect to normal years. Extreme precipitation events were visible in SWS and P wavelet spectra. Time shifts in correlations between ETa and SWS became smaller at the wetter and warmer site over time in comparison to the cooler and drier site where they stayed constant. This could be attributed to an earlier onset of the vegetation period over the years and thus to an earlier ETa peak every year and reflects the direct impact of changing climate on soil water budget parameters.

Long-term observations (>30 years) might reveal similar time shifts for a drier climate. Analysis of the SWS capacity could provide information on how different climatic conditions affect the long-term storage behaviour of soils.

Annelie Ehrhardt, Jannis S. Groh, and Horst H. Gerke

Status: open (until 10 Apr 2024)

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Annelie Ehrhardt, Jannis S. Groh, and Horst H. Gerke
Annelie Ehrhardt, Jannis S. Groh, and Horst H. Gerke


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Short summary
Soil water storage (SWS) describes the amount of water in the root zone of plants accessible for crop growth. SWS underlies annual cycles with maximum values in winter and minimum values in summer. For a soil that was transferred from a drier to a more humid climate we found that the maximum peak of SWS occurs earlier every year. This can be explained by an earlier start of the vegetation period. It is a first indication that the ability of soils to store water is affected by climate change.