Fractal behavior of soil water storage at multiple depths
- 1Department of Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University, 21111 Lakeshore Road, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, H9X3V9, Canada
- 2Department of Soil Science, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, S7N5A8, Canada
- 3Department of Soil and Physical Sciences, Lincoln University, P.O. Box 85084, Lincoln, 7647 Christchurch, New Zealand
- 4CSIRO Land and Water, 2601 Canberra, ACT, Australia
Abstract. Spatiotemporal behavior of soil water is essential to understand the science of hydrodynamics. Data intensive measurement of surface soil water using remote sensing has established that the spatial variability of soil water can be described using the principle of self-similarity (scaling properties) or fractal theory. This information can be used in determining land management practices provided the surface scaling properties are kept at deep layers. The current study examined the scaling properties of sub-surface soil water and their relationship to surface soil water, thereby serving as supporting information for plant root and vadose zone models. Soil water storage (SWS) down to 1.4 m depth at seven equal intervals was measured along a transect of 576 m for 5 years in Saskatchewan. The surface SWS showed multifractal nature only during the wet period (from snowmelt until mid- to late June) indicating the need for multiple scaling indices in transferring soil water variability information over multiple scales. However, with increasing depth, the SWS became monofractal in nature indicating the need for a single scaling index to upscale/downscale soil water variability information. In contrast, all soil layers during the dry period (from late June to the end of the growing season in early November) were monofractal in nature, probably resulting from the high evapotranspirative demand of the growing vegetation that surpassed other effects. This strong similarity between the scaling properties at the surface layer and deep layers provides the possibility of inferring about the whole profile soil water dynamics using the scaling properties of the easy-to-measure surface SWS data.