Can canopy interception and biomass be inferred from cosmic-ray neutron intensity? Results from neutron transport modeling
Mie Andreasen1, Karsten H. Jensen1, Darin Desilets2, Marek Zreda3, Heye Bogena4, and Majken C. Looms11Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management, University of Copenhagen, Denmark 2Hydroinnova LLC, Albuquerque, New Mexico 3Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, University of Arizona, Arizona 4Agrosphere IBG-3, Forschungszentrum Juelich GmbH, Germany
Received: 12 May 2016 – Accepted for review: 23 May 2016 – Discussion started: 26 May 2016
Abstract. Cosmic-ray neutron intensity is inversely correlated to all hydrogen present in the upper decimeters of the subsurface and the first few hectometers of the atmosphere above the ground surface. This method has been used for measuring soil moisture and snow water equivalent, but it may also be used to identify and quantify canopy interception and biomass. We use a neutron transport model with various representations of the forest and different parameters describing the subsurface to match measured profiles and time series of thermal and epithermal neutron intensities at a field site in Denmark. A sensitivity analysis is performed to quantify the effect of forest canopy representation, soil moisture, complexity of soil matrix chemistry, forest litter, soil bulk density, canopy interception and forest biomass on neutron intensity. The results show that forest biomass has a significant influence on the neutron intensity profiles at the examined field site, altering both the shape of the profiles and the ground level thermal-to-epithermal neutron ratio. The ground level thermal-to-epithermal neutron ratio increases significantly with increasing amounts of biomass and minor with canopy interception. Satisfactory agreement is found between measurements and model results at the forest site as well as two nearby sites representing agricultural and heathland ecosystems. The measured ground level thermal-to-epithermal neutron ratios of the three site range from around 0.56 to 0.82. The significantly smaller effect of canopy interception on the ground level thermal-to-epithermal neutron ratio was modeled to range from 0.804 to 0.836 for a forest with a dry and a very wet canopy (4 mm of canopy interception), respectively. At the examined field site the signal of the canopy interception is lower than the measurement uncertainty.
Andreasen, M., Jensen, K. H., Desilets, D., Zreda, M., Bogena, H., and Looms, M. C.: Can canopy interception and biomass be inferred from cosmic-ray neutron intensity? Results from neutron transport modeling, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., doi:10.5194/hess-2016-226, in review, 2016.