Extinction depth and evapotranspiration from ground water under selected land covers.


In many landscapes, vegetation extracts water from both the unsaturated and the saturated zones. The partitioning of evapotranspiration (ET) into vadose zone evapotranspiration and ground water evapotranspiration (GWET) is complex because it depends on land cover and subsurface characteristics. Traditionally, the GWET fraction is assumed to decay with increasing depth to the water table (DTWT), attaining a value of 0 at what is termed the extinction depth. A simple assumption of linear decay with depth is often used but has never been rigorously examined using unsaturated-saturated flow simulations. Furthermore, it is not well understood how to relate extinction depths to characteristics of land cover and soil texture. In this work, variable saturation flow theory is used to simulate GWET for three land covers and a range of soil properties under drying soil conditions. For a water table within half a meter of the land surface, nearly all ET is extracted from ground water due to the close hydraulic connection between the unsaturated and the saturated zones. For deep-rooted vegetation, the decoupling of ground water and vadose zone was found to begin at water table depths between 30 and 100 cm, depending on the soil texture. The decline of ET with DTWT is better simulated by an exponential decay function than the commonly used linear decay. A comparison with field data is consistent with the findings of this study. Tables are provided to vary the extinction depth for heterogeneous landscapes with different vegetation cover and soil properties.

Cite this paper

@article{Shah2007ExtinctionDA, title={Extinction depth and evapotranspiration from ground water under selected land covers.}, author={Nirjhar Shah and Mahmood H. Nachabe and Mark Ross}, journal={Ground water}, year={2007}, volume={45 3}, pages={329-38} }