Article accepted in Water Resources Research

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A research article written by Trenton Franz et al., has been accepted for publication in Water Resources Research.

Results An article written by Trenton Franz Wang (along with co-authors Lizzie King, Kelly, Jan Norbotten, Mike Celia, and Ignacio Rodriguez-Iturbe) has just been accepted for publication in Water Resources Research. The article, “An ecohydrological approach to predicting hillslope-scale vegetation patterns in dryland ecosystems” presents a model of hillslope vegetation dynamics that includes vegetation impacts on both patch-based water balance dynamics as well landscape flow patterns. Trenton asked a cery straight-forward, but complicated question:

“Given a set of simple rules about how trees alter local water balance, what patterns of hillslope vegetation distribution are most beneficial to the overall patterns of water use and availability at our site in central Kenya?”

Because the effect of vegetation on micro-topography aren’t well known, Trenton explored how changes in the strength of vegetation-topography interactions led to alternative “optimal” hillslope patterns. The most interesting result from Trenton’s model is that metrics of landscape organization lead to alternative outcomes in terms of optimality – suggesting that how choose to characterize the system strongly influences our predictions regarding how it organizes. This is deeply troubling, but the sort of result that only a simplified model could reveal.

The patch-scale water balance model is based on empirical analysis of runoff and soil moisture dynamics collected way back in 2008, when Trenton was just starting his PhD. He has since graduated and moved on to a postdoc position at the University of Arizona, and we’re all happy to see this work from his PhD get published.

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