Soil moisture change analysis under watershed management practice using in situ and remote sensing data in a paired watershed
Summary, in English
Soil moisture, vegetation cover, and land surface temperature are vital variables in water-energy balance, eco-hydrological processes, and water resources management, which can be influenced by watershed management activities. This research focused on the spatial and temporal variability of soil moisture, vegetation cover, land surface temperature, and Temperature-Vegetation Dryness Index (TVDI) under a biological watershed management practice in the Taleghan paired watershed, namely, treated (TW) and control watersheds (CW), in Alborz province, Iran. In this research, along with the remote sensing techniques, the soil moisture and vegetation cover data were measured and statistically analyzed in the three aspects of both TW and CW during a growth period from May to October 2017. The results indicated that soil moisture, vegetation cover, and land surface temperature values in the paired watershed were significantly different at the 0.01 level during the study period. The increased vegetation cover in the TW had an inverse effect on the land surface temperature and TVDI, while directly impacted the soil moisture content. The average TVDI in the CW was 0.83, while this index was found to be 0.69 in the TW. Unlike the vegetation cover and soil moisture, the results revealed that the southern aspects had the highest TVDI and land surface temperature compared to the northern and eastern aspects of both watersheds. However, the increased vegetation cover as a biological watershed management activity in the steep terrain and mountainous areas of TW led to an increased soil moisture and a decreased land surface temperature and soil dryness. As a result, decreasing soil dryness in the TW can exert vital controls on the water resources and increasing water availability. In the arid and semiarid countries such as Iran, a proper watershed management activity can effectively increase soil moisture and water availability in the watersheds. In particular, the vegetation cover protection and biological practices can be considered as practical solutions in the rehabilitation of exhausted watersheds in arid and semiarid environments.