Sensitivity of soil moisture field evolution to rainfall forcing

Chulsang Yoo, Sung Jae Kim, Juan B. Valdes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In this paper the temporal behaviour of soil moisture is modelled and statistically characterized by use of the zero-dimensional model for soil moisture dynamics and the rectangular pulses Poisson process model for rain all forcing. The mean, covariance and spectral density function of soil moisture (both instantaneous and locally averaged cases) are analytically derived to evaluate its sensitivity to the model parameters. Finally, the probability density function of soil moisture is derived to evaluate the effect of rainfall forcing. All the model parameters used have been tuned to the Monsoon '90 data. Results can be summarized as follows. (1) Only the soil moisture model parameters (η and nZr) are found to affect the autocorrelation function in a distinguishable manner. On the other hand, both the rainfall model parameter (φ) and the effective soil depth (nZr) are found to be of impact to the soil moisture spectrum. However, as the smoothing (or damping) effect of soil is so dominant, about ±20% variation of one parameter seems not to affect significantly the second-order statistics of soil moisture. (2) More difference can be found by applying a longer averaging time, which is found to obviously decrease the variance but increase the correlation even though no overlapping between neighbouring soil moisture data was allowed. (3) Among rainfall model parameters, the arrival rate λ was found to be most important for the soil moisture evolution. When increasing the arrival rate of rainfall, the histogram of soil moisture shifts its peak to a certain value as well as becomes more concentrated around the peak. However, by decreasing the arrival rate of rainfall, a much smaller (almost to zero) mean value of soil moisture was estimated, even though the total volume of rainfall remained constant. This indicates that desertification may take place without decreasing the total volume of rainfall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1855-1869
Number of pages15
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 15 2005


  • Rainfall
  • Sensitivity analysis
  • Soil moisture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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