Spatiotemporal patterns of water table fluctuations and evapotranspiration induced by riparian vegetation in a semiarid area

Weifeng Yue, Tiejun Wang, Trenton E. Franz, Xun-Hong Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Groundwater evapotranspiration (ETg) links various ecohydrological processes and is an important component in regional water budgets. In this study, an extensive monitoring network was established in a semiarid riparian area to investigate various controls on the spatiotemporal pattern of water table fluctuations (WTFs) and ETg induced by riparian vegetation. Along a vegetation gradient (1200 m), diurnal WTFs were observed during a growing season in areas covered by woody species (Populus sect. Aigeiros and Juniperus virginiana) and wet slough vegetation (Panicum virgatum and Bromus inermis) with deeper root systems; whereas, no diurnal WTFs were found in the middle section with shallower-rooted grasses (Poa pratensis and Carex sp.). The occurrence of diurnal WTFs was related to temperature-controlled plant phenology at seasonal scales and to radiation at subdaily scales. Daily ETg in the mid-growing season was calculated using the White method. The results revealed that depth to water table (DTWT) was the dominant control on ETg, followed by potential evapotranspiration (ETp). By combining the effects of DTWT and ETp, it was found that at shallower depths, ETg was more responsive to changes in ETp, due to the closer linkage of land surface processes with shallower groundwater. Finally, exponential relationships between ETg/ETp and DTWT were obtained at the study site, although those relationships varied considerably across the sites. This study demonstrates the complex interactions of WTFs and ETg with surrounding environmental variables and provides further insight into modeling ETg over different time scales and riparian vegetation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1948-1960
Number of pages13
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • White method
  • diurnal fluctuation
  • groundwater evapotranspiration
  • riparian vegetation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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