Kuo, T.-H., J.-P. Chen*, and Y. Xue, 2016: Stem-root flow effect on soil-atmosphere interactions and uncertainty assessments. Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 1509–1522.  doi:10.5194/hess-20-1509-2016



Rainfall that reaches the soil surface can rapidly move into deeper layers in the form of bulk flow through the stem–root flow mechanism. This study developed the stem–root flow parameterization scheme and coupled this scheme with the Simplified Simple Biosphere model (SSiB) to analyze its effects on land–atmospheric interactions. The SSiB model was tested in a single-column mode using the Lien Hua Chih (LHC) measurements conducted in Taiwan and HAPEX–Mobilhy (HAPEX) measurements in France. The results show that stem–root flow generally caused a decrease in soil moisture in the top soil layer and moistened the deeper soil layers. Such soil moisture redistribution results in substantial changes in heat flux exchange between land and atmosphere. In the humid environment at LHC, the stem–root flow effect on transpiration was minimal, and the main influence on energy flux was through reduced soil evaporation that led to higher soil temperature and greater sensible heat flux. In the Mediterranean environment of HAPEX, the stem–root flow substantially affected plant transpiration and soil evaporation, as well as associated changes in canopy and soil temperatures. However, the effect on transpiration could be either positive or negative depending on the relative changes in the soil moisture of the top soil vs. deeper soil layers due to stem–root flow and soil moisture diffusion processes.


Stem-root flow conceptual diagram.  Leaf drainage in the model can be separated into throughfall and stemflow.  Following the stemflow path, rainwater can continue via the root system to reach deep soil layers and the water table.  The stemflow that reaches the top soil layer, q0, is divided into a downward transfer flux (i.e., the root flow) qz and a lateral transfer flux qx (from the root surface to the soil), and the two transfer fluxes regulate the root flow thickness.