Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2008 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts

Effects of land use and vegetation cover on soil temperature in the Baltimore metropolitan area
Savva, Julia
Co-Authors: Y. Savva, K. Szlavecz, R.V. Pouyat, P.M. Groffman, G.M. Heisler
Abstract: Land surfaces have been changed by human activities through converting forest covers to urban and agricultural lands, which resulted in increases of the air and soil temperatures. Models of soil temperature that did not account for the factors of land use and land cover failed to perform accurate predictions at high-resolution scales. Yet soil temperature is an important factor controlling soil microbial processes, primary production and climate. Here we developed a model of the average daily soil temperature accounting for two vegetation (grass and forest) and two land-use types (urban and rural) for the Baltimore metropolitan area. We used average daily soil temperature data at 0 to 10 cm depth collected from the six permanent plots of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study over the last 8 years. We showed that the average annual soil temperature was higher in urban (15.0oC) than in rural turfgrass sites (13.5oC), and higher in urban (12.6oC) than in rural forest sites (12.2oC). The differences were highest between March and August. We also demonstrated an application of the model for predictions of changes in soil temperature under changes in the air temperature as projected by general circulation models. The model can be used for predictions of the average daily soil temperature in the Baltimore area for sites with soil and hydrological conditions that are similar to those in the test plots.