The role of landscape morphology on soil moisture variability in semi-arid ecosystems

Ankur Srivastava, Patricia M. Saco, Jose F. Rodriguez, Nikul Kumari, Kwok Pan Chun, Omer Yetemen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies on semi-arid ecosystems have shown high values of soil moisture variability (SMV) primarily induced by the combined effects of non-uniform precipitation, incoming solar radiation, and soil and vegetation properties. However, the relative impact of these various factors on SMV has been difficult to evaluate due to limited availability of field data. In addition, only a limited number of studies have analysed the role of landscape morphology on SMV. Here we use numerical simulations of a simple hydrological model, the Bucket Grassland Model, to systematically analyse the effect of each contributing factor on SMV on two different landscape morphologies. The two different landform morphologies represent landscapes dominated respectively by either diffusive erosion or fluvial erosion processes. We conducted various simulations driven by a stochastically generated 100-year climate time series, which is long enough to capture climatic fluctuations, in order to understand the effect of various soil moisture controlling factors on the spatiotemporal SMV. Our modelling results show that the fluvial dominated landscapes promote higher spatial SMV than the diffusive dominated ones. Further, the role of landform morphology on SMV is more pronounced in regions where the spatial variability of incoming solar radiation and precipitation is high.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13990
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


We thank the editor, John L. Nieber, and two anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions which improved the content of this paper. P. M. Saco acknowledges support from the Australian Research Council through grants FT140100610 and DP140104178. O. Yetemen acknowledges support from the 2232 International Fellowship for Outstanding Researchers Program of the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) through grant 118C329. The financial support received from TUBITAK does not mean that the content of the publication is approved in a scientific sense by TUBITAK. Australian Research Council, Grant/Award Numbers: DP140104178, FT140100610; Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştirma Kurumu, Grant/Award Number: 118C329 Funding information

FundersFunder number
Australian Research CouncilDP140104178, FT140100610
Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştirma Kurumu118C329


    • landscape morphology
    • latitudinal variations
    • soil moisture variability
    • solar radiation


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