The terrestrial water balance is forced by highly intermittent and unpredictable pulses of rainfall. This in turn impacts several related hydrological and ecological processes, such as plant photosynthesis, soil biogeochemistry and has feedbacks on the local climate.
We treat the rainfall forcing at the daily time scale as a of marked (Poisson) point processes, which is then used the main driver of the stochastic soil water balance equation. We analyze the main nonlinearities in the soil water losses and discuss the probabilistic dynamics of soil water content as a function of soil-plant and vegetation characteristics. Crossing and mean-first-passage-time properties of the stochastic soil moisture process define the statistics of plant water stress, which in turn control plant dynamics, as shown in application to tree-grass coexistence in the Kalahari transect.
In the second part of this overview, we briefly illustrate: i) the propagation of soil moisture fluctuations through the nonlinear soil carbon and nitrogen cycles, ii) the possible emergence of persistence and preferential states in rainfall occurrence due to soil moisture feedback, and iii) the impact of inter-annual rainfall variability in connection to recent theory of superstatistics.
Rodriguez-Iturbe I. and A. Porporato, Ecohydrology of water controlled ecosystems: plants and soil moisture dynamics. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 2004.
Laio F., Porporato A., Ridolfi L., and Rodriguez-Iturbe I. (2001) Plants in water controlled ecosystems: Active role in hydrological processes and response to water stress. II. Probabilistic soil moisture dynamics. Advances in Water Research, 24, 707-723.
Porporato A., Laio F., Ridolfi L., and Rodriguez-Iturbe I. (2001) Plants in water controlled ecosystems: Active role in hydrological processes and response to water stress. III. Vegetation water stress. Advances in Water Research, 24, 725-744.
Porporato A., DOdorico P., Phase transitions driven by state-dependent Poisson noise, Phys. Rev. Lett. 92(11), 110601, 2004.
DOdorico P., Porporato A., Preferential states in soil moisture and climate dynamics, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, 101(24), 8848-8851, 2004. Manzoni S., Porporato A., DOdorico P. and I. Rodriguez-Iturbe. Soil nutrient cycles as a nonlinear dynamical system. Nonlin. Proc. in Geophys. 11, 589-598, 2004.
Porporato A., G. Vico, and P. Fay, Interannual hydroclimatic variability and Ecosystem Superstatistics. Geophys. Res. Lett., 33, L5402, 2006.
Daly, E., and A. Porporato, Inter-time jump statistics of state-dependent Poisson processes, Phys. Rev. E, 75, 011119, 2007.