Revegetation can alter catchment water balance and result in soil desiccation. Large-scale revegetation took place in the Loess Plateau of China to control soil erosion and improve environmental conditions. However, the dynamic nature of soil moisture in response to revegetation under different climatic conditions is still unclear mainly due to lack of long-term in situ observations. To overcome this challenge, a biophysically based ecohydrological model (WAVES) was used to examine the effects of revegetation on soil moisture. Results showed that trees consume more water (100% of precipitation) than shrub (97.6%) and grass (98.3%), and therefore are more likely to result in soil desiccation. No runoff occurred under the tree scenario, while for shrub and grass, runoff accounted for 2.4% and 1.7% of precipitation, respectively. In areas with mean annual precipitation (MAP) less than 400 mm, tree planting resulted in soil water deficit, while in areas with MAP exceeding 600 mm, no soil water deficit occurred. Within this MAP range (400 < MAP < 600 mm), this could lead to soil water deficit during dry years. Extending this analysis to the entire Loess Plateau, 40% of the region will face reduced soil moisture when converting cropland to trees.
- Loess Plateau
- mean annual precipitation
- soil desiccation
- WAVES model
- First received 11 January 2016.
- Accepted in revised form 4 August 2016.
- © 2016 The Authors
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