Abstract

Soil water evaporation is an important component of the surface water balance and the surface energy balance. Accurate and dynamic measurements of soil water evaporation enhance the understanding of water and energy partitioning at the land–atmosphere interface. The objective of this study was to measure the cumulative soil water evaporation with time and depth in a bare field. Cumulative water evaporation at the soil surface was measured by the Bowen ratio method. Subsurface cumulative soil water evaporation was determined with the heat pulse method at fine-scale depth increments. Following rainfall, the subsurface cumulative evaporation curves followed a pattern similar to the surface cumulative evaporation curve, with approximately a 2-d lag before evaporation was indicated at the 3- and 9-mm soil depths, and several more days' delay in deeper soil layers. For a 21-d period in 2007, the cumulative evaporation totals at soil depths of 0, 3, 9, 15, and 21 mm were 60, 44, 29, 13, and 8 mm, respectively. For a 16-d period in 2008, the cumulative evaporation totals at soil depths of 0, 3, 9, 15, and 21 mm were 32, 25, 16, 10, and 5 mm, respectively. Cumulative evaporation results from the Bowen ratio and heat pulse methods indicated a consistent dynamic pattern for surface and subsurface water evaporation with both time and depth. These findings suggest that heat pulse sensors can accurately measure subsurface soil water evaporation during several wetting–drying cycles.

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