Changes in soil water dynamics due to variation in precipitation and temperature: An ecohydrological analysis in a tallgrass prairie



[1] There is considerable evidence that future global climate change will increase temperature and alter precipitation regime. To better understand how these factors will influence soil water dynamics, it is imperative to use multifactorial experiments. A 1 year “pulse” experiment, with 4°C warming and a doubling in precipitation, was performed to evaluate the changes in soil moisture dynamics. Frequency distribution analyses of soil moisture and soil temperature were used to explore the consequences of climate change on ecohydrological processes at different soil depths. There was a decrease in soil moisture frequency from 0 to 120 cm in both warming and warming with increased precipitation experiments. Different soil depths had similar patterns of change in soil moisture and soil temperature frequency. Additionally, we correlated evapotranspiration and soil moisture to look at changes in evapotranspiration from the wilting point (Ew) to maximum evapotranspiration (Emax). These results revealed a shift in the slope and position of Ew to Emax with experimental warming. Our results showed that the soil moisture dynamics and the ecohydrology were changed by different global climate change scenarios. Understanding the effects of global warming on soil moisture dynamics will be critical for predicting changes in ecosystem level processes.