The feedbacks among forest transpiration, soil moisture, and subsurface flowpaths are poorly understood. We investigate how soil moisture is affected by daily transpiration using time-lapse electrical resistivity imaging (ERI) on a highly instrumented ponderosa pine and the surrounding soil throughout the growing season. By comparing sap flow measurements to the ERI data, we find that periods of high sap flow within the diel cycle are aligned with decreases in ground electrical conductivity and soil moisture due to drying of the soil during moisture uptake. As sap flow decreases during the night, the ground conductivity increases as the soil moisture is replenished. The mean and variance of the ground conductivity decreases into the summer dry season, indicating drier soil and smaller diel fluctuations in soil moisture as the summer progresses. Sap flow did not significantly decrease through the summer suggesting use of a water source deeper than 60 cm to maintain transpiration during times of shallow soil moisture depletion. ERI captured spatiotemporal variability of soil moisture on daily and seasonal timescales. ERI data on the tree showed a diel cycle of conductivity, interpreted as changes in water content due to transpiration, but changes in sap flow throughout the season could not be interpreted from ERI inversions alone due to daily temperature changes.
Mares, R., Barnard, H. R., Mao, D., Revil, A., Singha, K. (2016): Examining diel patterns of soil and xylem moisture using electrical resistivity imaging. Journal of Hydrology 536 (2016) 327–338.
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.