Abstract

Temporal stability (TS) of soil water content (SWC) has been observed throughout a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Yet, the evidence with respect to the controlling factors on TS SWC remains contradictory or nonexistent. The objective of this work was to develop the first comprehensive review of methodologies to evaluate TS SWC and to present and analyze an inventory of published data. Statistical analysis of mean relative difference (MRD) data and associated standard deviations (SDRD) from 157 graphs in 37 publications showed a trend for the standard deviation of MRD (SDMRD) to increase with scale, as expected. The MRD followed generally the Gaussian distribution with R2 ranging from 0.841 to 0.998. No relationship between SDMRD and R2 was observed. The smallest R2 values were mostly found for negatively skewed and platykurtic MRD distributions. A new statistical model for temporally stable SWC fields was proposed. The analysis of the published data on seven measurement-, terrain-, and climate-related potentially controlling factors of TS SWC suggested intertwined effects of controlling factors rather than single dominant factors. This calls for a focused research effort on the interactions and effects of measurement design, topography, soil, vegetation and climate on TS SWC. Research avenues are proposed which will lead to a better understanding of the TS phenomenon and ultimately to the identification of the underlying mechanisms.

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