Trees play a key role in controlling the water and energy balance at the land-air surface. By changing water content of soil and atmosphere, trees influence meteorological, climatological and hydrological cycles. Numerical models allow simulating the relevant hydrological processes; most importantly the movement of water as it is transported through the soil, taken up by roots into the tree and ultimately transpired into the atmosphere along water potential gradients across the soil-root-tree-atmosphere continuum (SPAC). The results of a multi-year deployment of soil moisture sensors to study the hydrologic/biotic interactions in a mixed-conifer forest in the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) will be presented. To better understand root-soil water interactions, a mature white fir (Abies concolor) and the surrounding root zone was continuously monitored (sap flow, canopy stem water potential, soil moisture, soil water potential and temperature), to characterize the hydraulics SPAC. In addition, we present a hydrodynamic model, simulating unsaturated flow in the soil and tree with stress functions controlling spatially distributed root uptake and canopy transpiration. To parameterize the in-situ tree water relationships, we combine the numerical model with observational data in an optimization framework, minimizing residuals between modeled and measured observational data.
Hopmans, J.W., Rings, J., Kamai, T., Mollaei Kandelous, M., Hartsough, P.C., and Vrugt, J.A. (2012): Modeling of soil and tree water status dynamics in a mixed-conifer forest of the Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatory (Invited). Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, December 2012. Abstract H52E-01..