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  • Author or Editor: Enrique R. Vivoni x
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Enrique R. Vivoni

Abstract

A fundamental problem in ecohydrology is diagnosing impacts of vegetation dynamics on the catchment response. This study uses a distributed hydrologic model and remote sensing data to evaluate the effects of seasonal vegetation greening on the basin water balance and the partitioning of evapotranspiration ET into soil evaporation, transpiration, and evaporation of intercepted water. Using remotely sensed data, updates are made to model vegetation parameters related to radiation, interception, and transpiration as ecosystems respond to precipitation during the North American monsoon (NAM). Comparisons of simulations with static and seasonally varying vegetation parameters reveal lower ET but higher vegetation-mediated ET losses because of the greening. Sensitivity analyses indicate that vegetation fraction is the primary control on ET and its partitioning, while interception parameters play a secondary role. As a result, spatial patterns in ET partitioning in the catchment exhibit a strong signature of vegetation fraction, though fine (coarse)-scale influences of soil moisture (radiation) are also observed. Vegetation-mediated ET losses were significant in large fractions of the catchment and exhibited ecosystem-dependent seasonal evolutions. The numerical simulations presented here provide the first spatially explicit estimates of ET partitioning accounting for vegetation dynamics obtained from remotely sensed data at the catchment scale.

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Agustín Robles-Morua
,
Enrique R. Vivoni
, and
Alex S. Mayer

Abstract

A distributed hydrologic model is used to evaluate how runoff mechanisms—including infiltration excess (RI ), saturation excess (RS ), and groundwater exfiltration (RG )—influence the generation of streamflow and evapotranspiration (ET) in a mountainous region under the influence of the North American monsoon (NAM). The study site, the upper Sonora River basin (~9350 km2) in Mexico, is characterized by a wide range of terrain, soil, and ecosystem conditions obtained from best available data sources. Three meteorological scenarios are compared to explore the impact of spatial and temporal variations of meteorological characteristics on land surface processes and to identify the value of North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS) forcing products in the NAM region. The following scenarios are considered for a 1-yr period: 1) a sparse network of ground-based stations, 2) raw forcing products from NLDAS, and 3) NLDAS products adjusted using available station data. These scenarios are discussed in light of spatial distributions of precipitation, streamflow, and runoff mechanisms during annual, seasonal, and monthly periods. This study identified that the mode of runoff generation impacts seasonal relations between ET and soil moisture in the water-limited region. In addition, ET rates at annual and seasonal scales were related to the runoff mechanism proportions, with an increase in ET when RS was dominant and a decrease in ET when RI was more important. The partitioning of runoff mechanisms also helps explain the monthly progression of runoff ratios in these seasonally wet hydrologic systems. Understanding the complex interplay between seasonal responses of runoff mechanisms and evapotranspiration can yield information that is of interest to hydrologists and water managers.

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