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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-22
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-22
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 24 Jan 2019

Research article | 24 Jan 2019

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

The 18O ecohydrology of a grassland ecosystem – predictions and observations

Regina T. Hirl1,4, Hans Schnyder1, Ulrike Ostler1, Rudi Schäufele1, Inga Schleip1,2, Sylvia H. Vetter3, Karl Auerswald1, Juan C. Baca Cabrera1, Lisa Wingate4, Margaret M. Barbour5, and Jérôme Ogée4 Regina T. Hirl et al.
  • 1Lehrstuhl für Grünlandlehre, Technische Universität München, 85354 Freising, Germany
  • 2Nachhaltige Grünlandnutzungssysteme und Grünlandökologie, Hochschule für nachhaltige Entwicklung Eberswalde, 16225 Eberswalde, Germany
  • 3The School of Bio logical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB24 3UU, UK
  • 4UMR ISPA, INRA, 33140 Villenave d'Ornon, France
  • 5Sydney Institute of Agriculture, The University of Sydney, NSW 2570, Sydney, Australia

Abstract. The oxygen isotope composition (δ18O) of leaf water δ18O>sub>leaf) is an important determinant of environmental and physiological information found in biological archives, but the system-scale understanding of the propagation of the δ18O of rain through soil and xylem water to δ18Oleaf has not been verified for grassland. Here we report a unique and comprehensive dataset of biweekly δ18O observations in soil, stem and leaf waters made over seven growing seasons in a temperate, drought-prone, mixed-species grassland. Using an 18O-enabled soil–plant–atmosphere transfer model, we evaluated our ability to predict the dynamics of δ18O in soil water, the depth of water uptake, and the effects of soil and atmospheric moisture on 18O-enrichment of leaf water (Δ18Oleaf) in this ecosystem. The model accurately predicted the δ18O dynamics of the different ecosystem water pools. Water uptake occurred from shallow soil depths throughout dry and wet periods in all years, presumably because of the high grazing pressure. Δ18Oleaf responded to both soil and atmospheric moisture and was best described when leaf water was separated into two non-mixing water pools. The close agreement between model predictions and observations is remarkable (and promising) as model parameters describing the relevant physical features or functional relationships of soil and vegetation were held constant with one single value for the entire mixed-species ecosystem.

Regina T. Hirl et al.
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Short summary
We evaluated the system-scale understanding of the propagation of the oxygen isotope signal (δ18O) of rain through soil and xylem to leaf water in a temperate drought-prone grassland. Biweekly δ18O observations of the water pools made during seven growing seasons were accurately reproduced by the 18O-enabled process-based model MuSICA. While water uptake occurred from shallow soil depths throughout dry and wet periods, leaf water 18O enrichment responded to both soil and atmospheric moisture.
We evaluated the system-scale understanding of the propagation of the oxygen isotope signal...
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