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Open AccessArticle

Quantifying the Effects of Climate and Vegetation on Soil Moisture in an Arid Area, China

School of Geography and Tourism, Qufu Normal University, Rizhao 276826, China
State Key Laboratory of Desert and Oasis Ecology, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Urumqi 830011, China
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
Department of Geography, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Christchurch 8000, New Zealand
Sino-Belgian Joint Laboratory of Geo-Information, Urumqi 830011, China
Sino-Belgian Joint Laboratory of Geo-Information, 9000 Ghent, Belgium
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(4), 767;
Received: 23 January 2019 / Revised: 10 April 2019 / Accepted: 11 April 2019 / Published: 13 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Related Disaster and Water Environment Management)
Soil moisture plays a critical role in land-atmosphere interactions. Quantifying the controls on soil moisture is highly valuable for effective management of water resources and climatic adaptation. In this study, we quantified the effects of precipitation, temperature, and vegetation on monthly soil moisture variability in an arid area, China. A non-linear Granger causality framework was applied to examine the causal effects based on multi-decadal reanalysis data records. Results indicate that precipitation had effects on soil moisture in about 91% of the study area and explained up to 40% of soil moisture variability during 1982–2015. Temperature and vegetation explained up to 8.2% and 3.3% of soil moisture variability, respectively. Climatic extremes were responsible for up to 10% of soil moisture variability, and the importance of climatic extremes was low compared to that of the general climate dynamics. The time-lagged analysis shows that the effects of precipitation and temperature on soil moisture were immediate and dissipated shortly. In addition, the effects of precipitation on soil moisture decreased with the increase of precipitation, soil moisture, and elevation. This study provides deep insight for uncovering the drivers of soil moisture variability in arid regions. View Full-Text
Keywords: soil moisture; precipitation; temperature; vegetation; non-linear Granger causality soil moisture; precipitation; temperature; vegetation; non-linear Granger causality
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Wang, Y.; Yang, J.; Chen, Y.; Fang, G.; Duan, W.; Li, Y.; De Maeyer, P. Quantifying the Effects of Climate and Vegetation on Soil Moisture in an Arid Area, China. Water 2019, 11, 767.

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