Interaction Between Ecohydrologic Dynamics and Microtopographic Variability Under Climate Change

Phong V.V. Le, Praveen Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vegetation acclimation resulting from elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration, along with response to increased temperature and altered rainfall pattern, is expected to result in emergent behavior in ecologic and hydrologic functions. We hypothesize that microtopographic variability, which are landscape features typically of the length scale of the order of meters, such as topographic depressions, will play an important role in determining this dynamics by altering the persistence and variability of moisture. To investigate these emergent ecohydrologic dynamics, we develop a modeling framework, Dhara, which explicitly incorporates the control of microtopographic variability on vegetation, moisture, and energy dynamics. The intensive computational demand from such a modeling framework that allows coupling of multilayer modeling of the soil-vegetation continuum with 3-D surface-subsurface flow processes is addressed using hybrid CPU-GPU parallel computing framework. The study is performed for different climate change scenarios for an intensively managed agricultural landscape in central Illinois, USA, which is dominated by row-crop agriculture, primarily soybean (Glycine max) and maize (Zea mays). We show that rising CO2 concentration will decrease evapotranspiration, thus increasing soil moisture and surface water ponding in topographic depressions. However, increased atmospheric demand from higher air temperature overcomes this conservative behavior resulting in a net increase of evapotranspiration, leading to reduction in both soil moisture storage and persistence of ponding. These results shed light on the linkage between vegetation acclimation under climate change and microtopography variability controls on ecohydrologic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8383-8403
Number of pages21
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • climate change
  • critical zone
  • ecohydrology
  • hybrid computing
  • microtopography
  • vegetation acclimation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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