A soil moisture monitoring network to characterize karstic recharge and evapotranspiration at five representative sites across the globe

Romane Berthelin*, Michael Rinderer, Bartolome Andreo, Andy Baker, Daniela Kilian, Gabriele Leonhardt, Annette Lotz, Kurt Lichtenwoehrer, Matias Mudarra, Ingrid Y. Padilla, Fernando Pantoja Agreda, Rafael Rosolem, Abel Vale, Andreas Hartmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
96 Downloads (Pure)


Karst systems are characterized by a high subsurface heterogeneity, and their complex recharge processes are difficult to characterize. Experimental methods to study karst systems mostly focus on analysing the entire aquifer. Despite their important role in recharge processes, the soil and epikarst receive limited attention, and the few available studies were performed at sites of similar latitudes. In this paper, we describe a new monitoring network that allows for the improvement of the understanding of soil and epikarst processes by including different karst systems with different land-cover types in different climate regions. Here, we present preliminary data form the network and elaborate on their potential to answer research questions about the role of soil and epikarst on karstic water flow and storage. The network measures soil moisture at multiple points and depths to understand the partitioning of rainfall into infiltration, evapotranspiration, and groundwater recharge processes. We installed soil moisture probes at five different climate regions: Puerto Rico (tropical), Spain (Mediterranean), the United Kingdom (humid oceanic), Germany (humid mountainous), and Australia (dry semi-arid). At each of the five sites, we defined two <span classCombining double low line"inline-formula">20 m×20 m</span> plots with different land-use types (forest and grassland). At each plot, 15 soil moisture profiles were randomly selected and probes at different depths from the topsoil to the epikarst (in total over 400 soil moisture probes) were installed. Covering the spatio-temporal variability of flow processes through a large number of profiles, our monitoring network will allow researchers to develop a new conceptual understanding of evapotranspiration and groundwater recharge processes in karst regions across different climate regions and land-use types, and this will provide the base for quantitative assessment with physically based modelling approaches in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-23
Number of pages13
JournalGeoscientific Instrumentation, Methods and Data Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2020

Structured keywords

  • Water and Environmental Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'A soil moisture monitoring network to characterize karstic recharge and evapotranspiration at five representative sites across the globe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this