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SwissSMEX-Veg: The Swiss Soil Moisture EXperiment - Soil moisture-Vegetation-Climate dynamics in Switzerland

Applicant Seneviratne Sonia
Number 128759
Funding scheme R'EQUIP
Research institution Institut für Atmosphäre und Klima ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Start/End 01.04.2010 - 30.09.2011
Approved amount 75'000.00
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All Disciplines (7)

Discipline
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Environmental Research
Meteorology
Other disciplines of Earth Sciences
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences
Agricultural and Forestry Sciences

Keywords (18)

soil moisture; vegetation-climate interactions; land cover; climate change and variability; droughts; monitoring; land-atmosphere coupling; climate and land surface models; forecasting; ecosystem exchanges; water resources; Switzerland; Central Europe; vegetation; forest; grassland; land-climate interactions; measurements

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Soil moisture is a key variable of the climate system, which plays an important role for near-surface climate, meteorology, and hydrology. It is however not routinely measured in most parts of the world, particularly in Europe, where measurement datasets are scarce. A crucial factor for soil moisture-climate interactions is the role of vegetation. Indeed grassland and forests have been shown to present very different sensitivity to soil moisture content, but these differences are not well investigated and often not consistent across climate models. No field studies so far have provided long-term and large-scale data for the analysis of the combined role of soil moisture limitation and vegetation cover for climate.The R'equip SwissSMEX-Veg project (2010) is an extension to the SwissSMEX project funded by SNF (2008-2011), which will allow to consider forest sites in parallel to grassland sites in the soil moisture measurement network established as part of SwissSMEX (http://www.iac.ethz.ch/url/research/SwissSMEX). It is conducted in collaboration between ETH Zurich, WSL, Agroscope and MeteoSwiss.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
120289 SwissSMEX: The Swiss Soil Moisture Experiment 01.06.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Soil moisture is a key variable of the climate system: It impacts the partitioning of the incoming radiation on land in the sensible and latent energy fluxes, with consequent effects on the near-surface climate (temperature, humidity), boundary-layer processes (e.g. convective precipitation), and potentially circulation. Moreover, as a storage element, it represents an important memory component for the regional climate system, with attendant high potential for seasonal forecasting. It is however not routinely measured in most parts of the world, particularly in Europe, where measurement datasets are scarce. A crucial factor for soil moisture-climate interactions is the role of vegetation. Indeed grassland and forests have been shown to present very different sensitivity to soil moisture content with resulting feedbacks to the climate system. However, these effects have only been experimentally investigated in small-scale studies, and current models exhibit large divergences regarding the sensitivity of differing vegetation cover to soil moisture stress. No field studies so far have provided long-term and large-scale data for the analysis of the combined role of soil moisture limitation and vegetation cover for climate.The SwissSMEX project funded by SNF (2008-2011) has been initiated to measure and analyse soil moisture-climate relationships in Switzerland. The initial budget allowed for a coverage of 13 sites at 11 locations (11 grassland sites, 1 arable site, and 1 forest site) with restricted instrumental equipment. With the present proposal, we propose to extend the project to a total of 22 sites at 20 locations, including 6 forest sites of the Swiss Long-term Forest ecosystem research (LWF) project of the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research (WSL). This will allow a comprehensive coverage of soil moisture measurements across vegetation cover types. Moreover, the measurements' quality at reference sites will be enhanced by including whole-profile measurements with high-accuracy sensors based on the time domain reflectometry (TDR) method.
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