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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2018-87
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 03 Apr 2018

Research article | 03 Apr 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

Controls on root zone storage capacity in boreal regions

Tanja de Boer-Euser1,2, Leo-Juhani Meriö3, and Hannu Marttila3 Tanja de Boer-Euser et al.
  • 1Water Resources Section, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, P.O. Box 5048, NL-2600 GA Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2Department of Civil Engineering, Eduardo Mondlane University, C.P. 257 Maputo, Mozambique
  • 3Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Unit, PO Box 4300, 90014 University of Oulu, Finland

Abstract. The root zone storage capacity (Sr) of the vegetation is an important parameter for the hydrological behaviour of a catchment. Often this Sr is derived from soil and vegetation data, but a new method uses climate data to estimate Sr under the assumption that vegetation adapts its root zone capacity to overcome dry periods. This method also enables to account for the temporal variability of Sr in case of changing climate or land cover. This study applies the new method in 64 catchments in Finland to investigate the controls on Sr in boreal regions. The relations were assessed between climate derived Sr-values and detailed vegetation characteristics (leaf cover, tree length, root biomass), climate variables (precipitation-potential evaporation rate, mean annual temperature, max snow water equivalent, snow-off date) and land cover types. The results show that especially the phase difference between snow-off date and onset of potential evaporation has a large influence on the derived Sr; results even indicate that (non-)coincidence of snow melt and potential evaporation can cause a division between catchments with a high and a low Sr-value. From this study, it can be concluded that the climate derived root zone storage capacity leads to plausible results in boreal areas and that besides from climate variables, catchment vegetation characteristics can also be directly linked to the derived Sr-values. As the climate derived Sr enables incorporating climatic and vegetation conditions in a hydrological parameter, it could be beneficial to assess the effects of changing climate and environmental conditions in boreal regions.

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Short summary
The root zone storage capacity (Sr) of the vegetation is an important hydrological parameter. This study used a relatively new method based on climate data to estimate Sr-values in boreal regions, instead of using soil data. The study shows that the climate derived Sr-values are not only linked to climate, but can also be directly linked to vegetation characteristics and that the (non-)coincidence of snow melt and potential evaporation can have a large influence on the derived Sr-values.
The root zone storage capacity (Sr) of the vegetation is an important hydrological parameter....
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