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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  17 Dec 2019

17 Dec 2019

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Estimates of tree root water uptake from soil moisture profile dynamics

Conrad Jackisch1,2, Samuel Knoblauch1,3, Theresa Blume4, Erwin Zehe1, and Sibylle K. Hassler1 Conrad Jackisch et al.
  • 1Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Institute of Water and River Basin Management, Chair of Hydrology, Kaiserstr. 12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Technische Universität Braunschweig, Institute of Geoecology, Dept. Landscape Ecology and Environmental Systems Analysis, Langer Kamp 19c, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
  • 3University of Greifswald, Dept. of Biology, Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Str. 15, 17489 Greifswald, Germany
  • 4Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Section Hydrology, Potsdam, Germany

Abstract. Root water uptake (RWU) as one important process in the terrestrial water cycle can help to better understand the interactions in the soil water plant system. We conducted a field study monitoring soil moisture profiles in the rhizosphere of beech trees at two sites with different soil conditions. We infer RWU from step-shaped, diurnal changes in soil moisture. While this approach is a feasible, easily implemented method during wet and moderate conditions, limitations were identified during drier states and for more heterogeneous soil settings. A comparison with time series of xylem sap velocity reveals that RWU and sap flow are complementary measures of the transpiration process. The high correlation between the sap flow time series of the two sites, but lower correlation between the RWU time series, suggests that the trees adapt RWU to soil heterogeneity and site differences.

Conrad Jackisch et al.

Data sets

Rhizosphere soil moisture dynamics and sap flow – determining root water uptake in a case study in the Attert catchment in Luxembourg C. Jackisch and S. K. Hassler

Model code and software

Rootwater Python Package: Initial release C. Jackisch

Conrad Jackisch et al.


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Short summary
We developed a software to calculate water uptake by beech tree roots (RWU) from soil moisture dynamics. We present our approach and compare RWU to measured sap flow in the tree stem. The study relates to two sites in western Luxembourg similar in topography and weather, but with contrasting soils. While sap flow is very similar between the two sites, RWU is more different. The trees appear to adapt their water sourcing, which cannot be explained by soil matric potential alone.
We developed a software to calculate water uptake by beech tree roots (RWU) from soil moisture...