Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SNOW AND HYDROLOGIC PROCESSES IN THE INTERMOUNTAIN WEST

Location: Northwest Watershed Management Research

Title: Soil water content and global change across an elevation gradient at Reynolds Creek, Idaho

Authors
item Seyfried, Mark
item Chandler, David -

Submitted to: Proceedings American AGU Chapman Conference on the GIS in the Vadose Zone
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2009
Publication Date: December 10, 2009
Citation: Seyfried, M.S., Chandler, D. 2009. Soil Water Content and Global Change Across an Elevation Gradient ar Reynolds Creek, Idaho. Proceedings American AGU Chapman Conference on the GIS in the Vadose Zone.

Interpretive Summary: Many of the issues associated with ongoing global climate change hinge on the impacts of the documented physical changes (e.g., rising temperature) on the ecological systems that sustain life. Soil is a primary interface between the two. Most GCM forecasts indicate that increasing temperatures will result in increasing evaporation rates and an increase in drought occurrence. Although ongoing measurements are demonstrating climate change, little information is available concerning corresponding changes in soil water. We analyze 32 years of soil water content data collected at five sites over a 1,000 m elevation gradient in terms of changes in plant water stress. Each soil monitoring site is associated with a long-term weather station and documented climate change. We found that the documented air temperature change of approximately one degree has little impact on soil water dynamics. This is probably because precipitation, which has remained constant, introduces a large noise signal. The impacts of climate change on soil water will most likely be expressed first in under areas with a seasonal snow cover (higher elevations).

Technical Abstract: Many of the issues associated with ongoing global climate change hinge on the impacts of the documented physical changes (e.g., rising temperature) on the ecological systems that sustain life. Soil is a primary interface between the two. Most GCM forecasts indicate that increasing temperatures will result in increasing evaporation rates and an increase in drought occurrence. Although ongoing measurements are demonstrating climate change, little information is available concerning corresponding changes in soil water. We analyze 32 years of soil water content data collected at five sites over a 1,000 m elevation gradient in terms of changes in plant water stress. Each soil monitoring site is associated with a long-term weather station and documented climate change. We found that the documented air temperature change of approximately one degree has little impact on soil water dynamics. This is probably because precipitation, which has remained constant, introduces a large noise signal. The impacts of climate change on soil water will most likely be expressed first in under areas with a seasonal snow cover (higher elevations).

Last Modified: 7/30/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page