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Journal of Arid Land  2019, Vol. 11 Issue (2): 228-240    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-019-0051-4
Orginal Article     
Spatial distribution of water-activesoil layer along the south-north transect in the Loess Plateau of China
Chunlei ZHAO1,2, Ming'an SHAO1,2,3, Xiaoxu JIA1,2, Laiming HUANG1,2, Yuanjun ZHU3,4,*()
1 Key Laboratory of Ecosystem Network Observation and Modeling, Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
2 College of Resources and Environment, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
3State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess Plateau, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China;
4 College of Natural Resources and Environment, Northwest A&F University, Yangling 712100, China;
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Soil water is an important compositionof water recyclein the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. However, intense water exchange between soil-plant and soil-atmosphereinterfacesonly occurs in a certain layer of the soil profile. For deep insight into wateractive layer (WAL, defined as the soil layer with a coefficient of variation in soil water content>10% in a given time domain)inthe Loess Plateau of China,we measuredsoil water content (SWC)in the 0.0-5.0 m soil profile from 86 sampling sites along an approximately 860-kmlong south-north transect during the period 2013-2016. Moreover, a datasetcontainedfourclimatic factors (mean annual precipitation, mean annual evaporation, annual mean temperature and mean annual dryness index) andfivelocalfactors (altitude, slope gradient, land use, clay content and soil organic carbon)ofeachsampling sitewasobtained.Inthisstudy, three WAL indices (WAL-T (the thickness of WAL), WAL-CV (the mean coefficient of variation in SWC within WAL) and WAL-SWC (themean SWC within WAL)) were used to evaluate the characteristics of WAL. The results showed that with increasing latitude, WAL-T and WAL-CV increased firstly and then decreased. WAL-SWC showed an oppositedistribution pattern along the south-north transect compared with WAL-T and WAL-CV. Average WAL-T of the transect was 2.0 m, suggesting intense soil water exchange in the0.0-2.0 m soil layer in the study area. Soil water exchange was deeper and more intense in the middle region than in the southern and northern regions, with the values of WAL-CV and WAL-Tbeing27.3% and 4.3 m in the middle region, respectively. Both climatic (10.1%) and local (4.9%) factors influenced the indices of WAL, with climatic factors having a more dominant effect.Compared with multiple linear regressions, pedotransfer functions (PTFs) from artificial neural network can better estimate theWAL indices. PTFs developed byartificial neural network respectivelyexplained 86%, 81% and 64% of the total variations in WAL-T, WAL-SWC andWAL-CV. Knowledge of WAL iscrucial for understanding the regional water budgetandevaluatingthe stable soil water reserve, regional water characteristics and eco-hydrological processes in the Loess Plateau of China.

Key wordswateractivelayer      soil water content      redundancy analysis      pedotransfer function      artificial neural network      Loess Plateau     
Received: 11 December 2017      Published: 10 April 2019
Corresponding Authors: Yuanjun ZHU     E-mail:
Cite this article:

Chunlei ZHAO, Ming'an SHAO, Xiaoxu JIA, Laiming HUANG, Yuanjun ZHU. Spatial distribution of water-activesoil layer along the south-north transect in the Loess Plateau of China. Journal of Arid Land, 2019, 11(2): 228-240.

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