Many modeling efforts have been made for shallow soil, but little has been done in deep-rooted ecosystems, especially on the long-term impact of deep-rooted vegetation to understand the impact of vegetation type on hydrological processes. In this study, we used the Community Land Model (CLM) version 4.0 to simulate the soil water dynamics and groundwater recharge with shallow-rooted and deep-rooted vegetation cover in the critical soil zone of 100 m thickness. We selected winter wheat and summer maize to represent shallow-rooted vegetation and apple trees as deep-rooted vegetation growing in the semi-humid Loess Plateau of China over the period of 1901–2015. Our results show that the rooting depth and precipitation dictate the occurrence of disconnected recharge. This occurred in soil depths that were below 75 m in wet years with annual precipitation of over 650, 730, and 1000 mm for the winter wheat field, summer maize field, and apple orchard, respectively. Connected recharge was the major component of groundwater recharge for all three crop fields. The transit time of precipitation ranged from several to hundreds of years via the disconnected recharge that is caused by extreme precipitation and the connected recharge that is generated by other precipitation. Therefore, both rooting depth and growth period of vegetation affect the groundwater recharge and transit time, as well as precipitation.
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