Assessment of the water balance of European forests: a model study

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As part of the UN-ECE Intensive Monitoring Program, data on precipitation, throughfall and soil solution concentrations are measured on a regular basis in approximately 300 forest stands. These data were used to construct element budgets for European forests. To construct such budgets drainage fluxes have to be modeled. In this paper, the research chain from model selection to data derivation and application of the selected model to 245 of the 300 sites is described. To select a suitable hydrological model the Cl- balance method, two capacity models (a multi and a single layer version) and a Darcy model have been applied to two forest sites. The results indicate that drainage fluxes calculated with the Darcy model are more accurate than fluxes derived with the capacity model, in particular in situations where water availability is limited. The Darcy model was applied to the sites using a mixture of generic data and site data. Despite the use of generic data, the calculated drainage fluxes appear feasible. Median transpiration fluxes were 350 mm and the lowest values are found in northern Europe and highest values are found in central Europe. Median drainage fluxes were 150 mm yr-1 with the highest values in areas with high rainfall. Uncertainty analyses indicate that the use of local instead of interpolated meteorological data leads to lower drainage fluxes at 70% of the sites. The median deviation in calculated drainage fluxes is 20 mm yr-1. The use of local soil data had little impact on the calculated fluxes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-190
JournalWater, Air, and Soil Pollution : Focus
Issue number2/3
Publication statusPublished - 2004

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