• forest hydrology;
  • semiarid;
  • water balance;
  • evapotranspiration;
  • soil moisture;
  • modeling

ABSTRACT: Detailed measurements of soil moisture and ET in semiarid forest environments have not been widely reported in the literature. In this study, soil moisture and water balance components were measured over a four-year period on a semiarid ponderosa pine hillslope, with evapotranspiration (ET) determined as the residual of measured precipitation, runoff, and change in soil moisture storage. ET accounts for approximately 95 percent of the water budget and has a distinctly bimodal annual pattern, with peaks occurring after spring snowmelt and during the late summer monsoon season, periods that coincide with high soil moisture. Weekly growing season ET rates determined by the hillslope water balance are found to be invariably below calculated potential rates. Normalized ET rates are linearly correlated (r2= 0.62) with soil moisture; therefore, a simple linear relation is proposed. Growing season soil moisture dynamics were modeled based on this relation. Results are in fair agreement (r2= 0.63) with the observed soil moisture data over the four growing seasons; however, for two dry summers with little surface runoff, much better results (r2 > 0.90) were obtained.