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.
Sanchez-Mejia Z.M., Papuga S.A., Swetish J.B., van Leeuwen W.J.D., Szutu D., and Hartfield K. (2014): Quantifying the influence of deep soil moisture on ecosystem albedo: The role of vegetation. Water Resources Research 50: 4038-4053. DOI: 10.1002/2013WR014150