On the spatial and temporal links between vegetation, climate, and soil moisture


Journal Article

The impact of climate fluctuations can be observed in the dynamics of vegetation and most particularly in the sensitive environment of savannas. In this paper we present a model for the local competition for soil moisture among neighboring vegetation. The initial condition for the model is a random field where at each point the soil moisture is the mean water content when there are no spatial interactions between sites. The mean soil moisture values account for stochasticity of climate and losses from evapotranspiration and leakage which depend on the existing water content. A spatial dynamics is then implemented based on the explicit minimization of the global water stress over the region. This approach explains the coexistence of herbaceous and woody plants in savannas as well as the changes in canopy density that have been documented in the southwest of the United States as a function of regional climatic fluctuations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rodriguez-Iturbe, I; D'Odorico, P; Porporato, A; Ridolfi, L

Published Date

  • December 1, 1999

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 12

Start / End Page

  • 3709 - 3722

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0043-1397

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1029/1999WR900255

Citation Source

  • Scopus