Soil hydrological properties regulate grassland ecosystem responses to multifactor global change: A modeling analysis

Ensheng Weng, Yiqi Luo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


We conducted a modeling study to evaluate how soil hydrological properties regulate water and carbon dynamics of grassland ecosystems in response to multifactor global change. We first calibrated a process-based terrestrial ecosystem (TECO) model against data from two experiments with warming and clipping or doubled precipitation in Great Plains. The calibrated model was used to simulate responses of soil moisture, evaporation, transpiration, runoff, net primary production (NPP), ecosystem respiration (Rh), and net ecosystem production (NEP) to changes in precipitation amounts and intensity, increased temperature, and elevated atmospheric [CO2] along a soil texture gradient (sand, sandy loam, loam, silt loam, and clay loam). Soil available water capacity (AWC), which is the difference between field capacity and wilting point, was used as the index to represent soil hydrological properties of the five soil texture types. Simulation results snowed that soil AWC altered partitioning of precipitation among runoff, evaporation, and transpiration, and consequently regulated ecosystem responses to global environmental changes. The fractions of precipitation that were used for evaporation and transpiration increased with soil AWC but decreased for runoff. High AWC could greatly buffer water stress during long drought periods, particularly after a large rainfall event. NPP, Rh, and NEP usually increased with AWC under ambient and 50% increased precipitation scenarios. With the halved precipitation amount, NPP, Rh, and NEP only increased from 7% to 7.5% of AWC followed by declines. Warming and CO2 effects on soil moisture, evapotranspiration, and runoff were magnified by soil AWC. Regulatory patterns of AWC on responses of NPP, Rh, and NEP to warming were complex. In general, CO2 effects on NPP, Rh, and NEP increased with soil AWC. Our results indicate that variations in soil texture may be one of the major causes underlying variable responses of ecosystems to global changes observed from different experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberG03003
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 28 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Palaeontology


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