Articles | Volume 19, issue 2
Research article
27 Mar 2012
Research article |  | 27 Mar 2012

Multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis in examining scaling properties of the spatial patterns of soil water storage

A. Biswas, T. B. Zeleke, and B. C. Si

Abstract. Knowledge about the scaling properties of soil water storage is crucial in transferring locally measured fluctuations to larger scales and vice-versa. Studies based on remotely sensed data have shown that the variability in surface soil water has clear scaling properties (i.e., statistically self similar) over a wider range of spatial scales. However, the scaling property of soil water storage to a certain depth at a field scale is not well understood. The major challenges in scaling analysis for soil water are the presence of localized trends and nonstationarities in the spatial series. The objective of this study was to characterize scaling properties of soil water storage variability through multifractal detrended fluctuation analysis (MFDFA). A field experiment was conducted in a sub-humid climate at Alvena, Saskatchewan, Canada. A north-south transect of 624-m long was established on a rolling landscape. Soil water storage was monitored weekly between 2002 and 2005 at 104 locations along the transect. The spatial scaling property of the surface 0 to 40 cm depth was characterized using the MFDFA technique for six of the soil water content series (all gravimetrically determined) representing soil water storage after snowmelt, rainfall, and evapotranspiration. For the studied transect, scaling properties of soil water storage are different between drier periods and wet periods. It also appears that local controls such as site topography and texture (that dominantly control the pattern during wet states) results in multiscaling property. The nonlocal controls such as evapotranspiration results in the reduction of the degree of multiscaling and improvement in the simple scaling. Therefore, the scaling property of soil water storage is a function of both soil moisture status and the spatial extent considered.