Ponded infiltration in a grid of permanent single-ring infiltrometers: Spatial versus temporal variability

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Temporal variability of the soil hydraulic properties is still an open issue. The present study deals with results of ponded infiltration experiments performed annually in a grid of permanent measurement points (18 spatial and 14 temporal replicates). Single ring infiltrometers were installed in 2003 at a meadow site in the Bohemian Forest highlands, the Czech Republic. The soil at the plot is coarse sandy loam classified as oligotrophic Eutric Cambisol. Soil water flow below infiltration rings has distinctly preferential character.

The results are marked with substantial interannual changes of observed infiltration rates. Considering just the results from the initial four years of the study, the temporal variability did not exceed the spatial variability detected in individual years. In later years, a shift to extremely high infiltration rates was observed. We hypothesize that it is related to structural changes of the soil profile possibly related to combined effect of soil biota activity, climatic conditions and experimental procedure. Interestingly, the temporal changes can partly be described as fluctuations between seemingly stable infiltration modes. This phenomenon was detected in the majority of rings and was found independent of the initial soil moisture conditions.

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