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The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  12 May 2020

12 May 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

How vadose zone mass and energy transfer physics affects the ecohydrological dynamics of a Tibetan meadow?

Lianyu Yu1, Yijian Zeng1, Simone Fatichi2, and Zhongbo Su1,3 Lianyu Yu et al.
  • 1Faculty of Geo-information and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands
  • 2Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  • 3Key Laboratory of Subsurface Hydrology and Ecological Effect in Arid Region of Ministry of Education, School of Water and Environment, Chang'an University, Xi'an, China

Abstract. The vadose zone is a sensitive region to environmental changes and exerts a crucial control in ecosystem functioning. While the way in representing the underlying process of vadose zone differs among models, the effect of such differences on ecosystem functioning is seldomly reported. Here, the detailed vadose zone process model STEMMUS was coupled with the ecohydrological model T&C to investigate the role of solving influential physical processes, considering different soil water and heat transfer parameterizations including frozen soils. We tested model performance with the aid of a comprehensive observation dataset collected at a typical meadow ecosystem on the Tibetan Plateau. Results indicated that: i) explicitly considering the frozen soil process significantly improved the soil moisture/temperature (SM/ST) profile simulations and facilitated our understanding of the water transfer processes within the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum; ii) the difference among various complexity of vadose zone physics have an impact on the vegetation dynamics mainly at the beginning of the growing season; iii) models with different vadose zone physics can predict similar interannual vegetation dynamics, and energy, water and carbon exchanges at the land-surface. This research highlights the role of vadose zone models and their underlying physics, in ecosystem functioning and can guide the development and applications of future earth system models.

Lianyu Yu et al.

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Lianyu Yu et al.

Data sets

Soil Hydraulic and Thermal Properties for Land Surface Modelling over the Tibetan Plateau H. Zhao, Y. Zeng, S. Lv, and Z. Su

Multiyear in-situ L-band microwave radiometry of land surface processes on the Tibetan Plateau Z. Su, J. Wen, Y. Zeng, H. Zhao, S. Lv, R. van der Velde, D. Zheng, X. Wang, Z. Wang, M. Schwank, Y. Kerr, S. Yueh, A. Colliander, H. Qian, M. Drusch, and S. Mecklenburg

Lianyu Yu et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
The effect of various complexity of soil water and heat transfer physics on ecosystem functioning was investigated. We found that explicitly considering the frozen soil physics and coupled water and heat transfer is important in mimicking soil hydrothermal dynamics. The presence of soil ice can alter vegetation leaf onset date and deep leakage. Different complexity in representing vadose zone physics does not affect considerably interannual energy, water, and carbon fluxes.
The effect of various complexity of soil water and heat transfer physics on ecosystem...