Observed timescales of evapotranspiration response to soil moisture

A. J. Teuling, S. I. Seneviratne, C. Williams, P. A. Troch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


The sensitivity of evapotranspiration (ET) to soil moisture storage plays an important role in the land-atmosphere system. Yet little is known about its magnitude, or its dependence on vegetation, soil, and/or climate characteristics. Here we relate the sensitivity to the timescale of ET decay in absence of rainfall, and show that it can thus be derived from time series of ET alone. We analyze ET observations-from 15 vegetated sites covering a range of climates conditions, yielding timescales of 15-35 days. Longer timescales (weaker ET sensitivity) are found in regions with seasonal droughts, or at sites with woody vegetation. We compare observed values with output of different land surface models (LSMs) from the Second Global Soil Wetness Project, revealing large inter-model differences and significant differences with observations. Our methodology can lead to improved representation of soil moisture effects on ET in LSMs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL23403
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 16 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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