Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-550
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-550
11 Mar 2024
 | 11 Mar 2024

Widespread increase of root zone storage capacity in the United States

Jiaxing Liang, Hongkai Gao, Fabrizio Fenicia, Qiaojuan Xi, Yahui Wang, and Hubert H. G. Savenije

Abstract. The root zone is the upper part of the unsaturated zone, where water and nutrients are accessible to plants, controlling hydrological responses, vegetation dynamics, biogeochemical processes, and land-atmospheric interaction. The root zone storage capacity (Sumax) represents the maximum subsurface moisture volume that can be accessed by the vegetation’s roots, controlling the partitioning of precipitation into storage, runoff and percolation. Previous work has illustrated that Sumax varies spatially, largely responding to climatic conditions. It can be therefore expected that Sumax varies temporally as well in response to climate change. However, this hypothesis has not been tested. In this study, we utilized a conceptual hydrological model and a dynamic parameter identification analysis method, to quantify the temporal trends of Sumax for 497 catchments in the USA. We found that 423 catchments (85 %) showed increasing Sumax, which averagely increased from 178 to 235 mm between 1980 and 2014. The increasing trend was also validated by multi-sources data and independent methods. Our results suggest that ecosystems dynamically adapt their root zone in response to climate change, which significantly affects hydrological processes and water resources availability. Moreover, the increase of Sumax significantly correlates to hydroclimatic indicators and vegetation dynamics. These results highlight the importance of considering the co-evolution of climate, ecosystems, and hydrology.

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Jiaxing Liang, Hongkai Gao, Fabrizio Fenicia, Qiaojuan Xi, Yahui Wang, and Hubert H. G. Savenije

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-550', Anonymous Referee #1, 14 Apr 2024
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Hongkai Gao, 24 May 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-550', Anonymous Referee #2, 02 Jul 2024
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Hongkai Gao, 10 Jul 2024
Jiaxing Liang, Hongkai Gao, Fabrizio Fenicia, Qiaojuan Xi, Yahui Wang, and Hubert H. G. Savenije
Jiaxing Liang, Hongkai Gao, Fabrizio Fenicia, Qiaojuan Xi, Yahui Wang, and Hubert H. G. Savenije

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Short summary
The root zone storage capacity (Sumax) is a key element in hydrology and land-atmospheric interaction. In this study, we utilized a hydrological model and a dynamic parameter identification method, to quantify the temporal trends of Sumax for 497 catchments in the USA. We found that 423 catchments (85 %) showed increasing Sumax, which averagely increased from 178 to 235 mm between 1980 and 2014. The increasing trend was also validated by multi-sources data and independent methods.