Quantifying the influence of deep soil moisture on ecosystem albedo: The role of vegetation

Zulia Mayari Sanchez-Mejia, Shirley Anne Papuga, Jessica Blaine Swetish, Willem Jan Dirk Van Leeuwen, Daphne Szutu, Kyle Hartfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


As changes in precipitation dynamics continue to alter the water availability in dryland ecosystems, understanding the feedbacks between the vegetation and the hydrologic cycle and their influence on the climate system is critically important. We designed a field campaign to examine the influence of two-layer soil moisture control on bare and canopy albedo dynamics in a semiarid shrubland ecosystem. We conducted this campaign during 2011 and 2012 within the tower footprint of the Santa Rita Creosote Ameriflux site. Albedo field measurements fell into one of four Cases within a two-layer soil moisture framework based on permutations of whether the shallow and deep soil layers were wet or dry. Using these Cases, we identified differences in how shallow and deep soil moisture influence canopy and bare albedo. Then, by varying the number of canopy and bare patches within a gridded framework, we explore the influence of vegetation and soil moisture on ecosystem albedo. Our results highlight the importance of deep soil moisture in land surface-atmosphere interactions through its influence on aboveground vegetation characteristics. For instance, we show how green-up of the vegetation is triggered by deep soil moisture, and link deep soil moisture to a decrease in canopy albedo. Understanding relationships between vegetation and deep soil moisture will provide important insights into feedbacks between the hydrologic cycle and the climate system. Key Points Semiarid ecosystem greenness is triggered by deep soil moisture Deep soil moisture decreases canopy albedo Deep soil moisture is important in semiarid land-atmosphere interactions

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4038-4053
Number of pages16
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2014


  • Larrea tridentata
  • NDVI
  • Santa Rita Experimental Range
  • creosotebush
  • eddy covariance
  • greenness
  • semiarid shrubland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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