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Arizona State University (2013)

Modeling Soil Moisture Dynamics of Landscape Irrigation in Desert Cities

Volo, Thomas John

Titre : Modeling Soil Moisture Dynamics of Landscape Irrigation in Desert Cities

Auteur : Volo, Thomas John

Université de soutenance : Arizona State University

Grade : M.S. Civil and Environmental Engineering 2013

Résumé
The history of outdoor water use in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area has given rise to a general landscape aesthetic and pattern of residential irrigation that seem in discord with the natural desert environment. While xeric landscaping that incorporates native desert ecology has potential for reducing urban irrigation demand, there are societal and environmental factors that make mesic landscaping, including shade trees and grass lawns, a common choice for residential yards. In either case, there is potential for water savings through irrigation schedules based on fluxes affecting soil moisture in the active plant rooting zone. In this thesis, a point-scale model of soil moisture dynamics was applied to two urban sites in the Phoenix area : one with xeric landscaping, and one with mesic. The model was calibrated to observed soil moisture data from irrigated and non-irrigated sensors, with local daily precipitation and potential evapotranspiration records as model forcing. Simulations were then conducted to investigate effects of irrigation scheduling, plant stress parameters, and precipitation variability on soil moisture dynamics, water balance partitioning, and plant water stress. Results indicated a substantial difference in soil water storage capacity at the two sites, which affected sensitivity to irrigation scenarios. Seasonal variation was critical in avoiding unproductive water losses at the xeric site, and allowed for small water savings at the mesic site by maintaining mild levels of plant stress. The model was also used to determine minimum annual irrigation required to achieve specified levels of plant stress at each site using long-term meteorological records. While the xeric site showed greater potential for water savings, a bimodal schedule consisting of low winter and summer irrigation was identified as a means to conserve water at both sites, with moderate levels of plant water stress. For lower stress levels, potential water savings were found by fixing irrigation depth and seasonally varying the irrigation interval, consistent with municipal recommendations in the Phoenix metropolitan area. These results provide a deeper understanding of the ecohydrologic differences between the two types of landscape treatments, and can assist water and landscape managers in identifying opportunities for water savings in desert urban areas.

Mots clés : Hydrologic sciences / Water resources management / Civil engineering / ecohydrology / evapotranspiration / landscaping / modeling / soil moisture / urban irrigation

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Page publiée le 26 octobre 2013, mise à jour le 9 septembre 2017