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Quantifying the role of climate and landscape characteristics on hydrologic partitioning and vegetation response

Quantifying the role of climate and landscape characteristics on hydrologic partitioning and vegetation response
Quantifying the role of climate and landscape characteristics on hydrologic partitioning and vegetation response
[1] There is no consensus on how changes in both temperature and precipitation will affect regional vegetation. We investigated controls on hydrologic partitioning at the catchment scale across many different ecoregions, and compared the resulting estimates of catchment wetting and vaporization (evapotranspiration) to remotely sensed indices of vegetation greenness. The fraction of catchment wetting vaporized by plants, known as the Horton index, is strongly related to the ratio of available energy to available water at the Earth's surface, the aridity index. Here we show that the Horton index is also a function of catchment mean slope and elevation, and is thus related to landscape characteristics that control how much and how long water is retained in a catchment. We compared the power of the components of the water and energy balance, as well as landscape characteristics, to predict Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a surrogate for vegetation productivity, at 312 Model Parameter Estimation Experiment (MOPEX) catchments across the United States. Statistical analysis revealed that the Horton index provides more precision in predicting maximum annual NDVI for all catchments than mean annual precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, or their ratio, the aridity index. Models of vegetation productivity should emphasize plant-available water, rather than just precipitation, by incorporating the interaction of climate and landscape. Major findings related to the Horton index are: (1) it is a catchment signature that is relatively constant from year-to-year; (2) it is related to specific landscape characteristics; (3) it can be used to create catchment typologies; and (4) it is related to overall catchment greenness.
0043-1397
1-13
Voepel, Hal
7330972a-c61c-4058-b52c-3669fadfcf70
Ruddell, Benjamin
d4446818-8195-4256-a6b2-3435abb41351
Schumer, Rina
57f38ba2-9732-4f50-8604-0758d3b816dc
Troch, Peter A.
f8cc3b3b-7e0e-407b-b8a4-55cb1b892934
Brooks, Paul D.
61e98d12-5877-4463-a716-9a8394f96ff2
Neal, Andrew
f035d835-092d-40fb-9cdc-b650689d96cc
Durcik, Matej
f5f370c0-4bf9-4746-b1b2-c0d8a97b97d2
Sivapalan, Murugesu
defed139-070b-4ef1-93f3-5ca3744f071c
Voepel, Hal
7330972a-c61c-4058-b52c-3669fadfcf70
Ruddell, Benjamin
d4446818-8195-4256-a6b2-3435abb41351
Schumer, Rina
57f38ba2-9732-4f50-8604-0758d3b816dc
Troch, Peter A.
f8cc3b3b-7e0e-407b-b8a4-55cb1b892934
Brooks, Paul D.
61e98d12-5877-4463-a716-9a8394f96ff2
Neal, Andrew
f035d835-092d-40fb-9cdc-b650689d96cc
Durcik, Matej
f5f370c0-4bf9-4746-b1b2-c0d8a97b97d2
Sivapalan, Murugesu
defed139-070b-4ef1-93f3-5ca3744f071c

Voepel, Hal, Ruddell, Benjamin, Schumer, Rina, Troch, Peter A., Brooks, Paul D., Neal, Andrew, Durcik, Matej and Sivapalan, Murugesu (2011) Quantifying the role of climate and landscape characteristics on hydrologic partitioning and vegetation response. Water Resources Research, 47 (10), 1-13. (doi:10.1029/2010WR009944).

Record type: Article

Abstract

[1] There is no consensus on how changes in both temperature and precipitation will affect regional vegetation. We investigated controls on hydrologic partitioning at the catchment scale across many different ecoregions, and compared the resulting estimates of catchment wetting and vaporization (evapotranspiration) to remotely sensed indices of vegetation greenness. The fraction of catchment wetting vaporized by plants, known as the Horton index, is strongly related to the ratio of available energy to available water at the Earth's surface, the aridity index. Here we show that the Horton index is also a function of catchment mean slope and elevation, and is thus related to landscape characteristics that control how much and how long water is retained in a catchment. We compared the power of the components of the water and energy balance, as well as landscape characteristics, to predict Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a surrogate for vegetation productivity, at 312 Model Parameter Estimation Experiment (MOPEX) catchments across the United States. Statistical analysis revealed that the Horton index provides more precision in predicting maximum annual NDVI for all catchments than mean annual precipitation, potential evapotranspiration, or their ratio, the aridity index. Models of vegetation productivity should emphasize plant-available water, rather than just precipitation, by incorporating the interaction of climate and landscape. Major findings related to the Horton index are: (1) it is a catchment signature that is relatively constant from year-to-year; (2) it is related to specific landscape characteristics; (3) it can be used to create catchment typologies; and (4) it is related to overall catchment greenness.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 10 June 2011
e-pub ahead of print date: 10 August 2011
Published date: October 2011
Organisations: Geography & Environment

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 394163
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/394163
ISSN: 0043-1397
PURE UUID: 0f60a264-4402-416c-a984-dce6483680ad

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Date deposited: 11 May 2016 11:26
Last modified: 17 Jul 2017 19:02

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Contributors

Author: Hal Voepel
Author: Benjamin Ruddell
Author: Rina Schumer
Author: Peter A. Troch
Author: Paul D. Brooks
Author: Andrew Neal
Author: Matej Durcik
Author: Murugesu Sivapalan

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