Monitoring of soil moisture in Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites of Romanian Carpathians
Keywords:soil moisture, sensor, forest, precipitation, temperature
AbstractUnderstanding soil moisture and its relationship with different climatic and soil characteristics is essential for better analysing the interactions between forest and soil water dynamics, allowing us to more precisely predict climatic changes. The present paper investigates the temporal variability of soil moisture in three different forest ecosystems (LTER – long term ecological research site) with the same soil type (Eutric Cambisol). Soil moisture was measured daily from 2011 to 2016 by using three sensors at three different depths (20, 40, 70 cm). We identified the interactions between soil properties, vegetation type, local climatic conditions and soil moisture. In order to establish the temporal variability of the soil moisture content, we have applied two procedures, namely the Fourier series and the neural network fitting. A high variability in time and depth for soil volumetric water content was identified. The highest soil moisture levels were recorded at higher depths (70 cm) for almost all surfaces, with the exception of the Fundata surface because of the occurrence of limestone. In the mountainous areas, with higher precipitation (Fundata and Predeal sites), volumetric soil water content was mainly influenced by soil physical characteristics. Soil moisture levels below the drought level were only recorded for the Stalpeni site from September to October 2012. There was a delay between the precipitation event and soil humidification of 0.4-0.8 time units (days). We also found a significant correlation between soil moisture and soil texture and a weak correlation with vegetation type. Temperature influenced soil moisture levels at almost all depths, while precipitation only had an impact when there was a delay of 1 or 2 days. Our results can serve as a scientific base in the monitoring and analysing of soil moisture against the background of a changing climate.
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