09 Dec 2022
09 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

An Experimental Investigation of Precipitation Utilization of plants in Arid Regions

Yiben Cheng1, Wei Feng2, Hongbin Zhan3, Huijie Xiao1, Zhiming Xin4, and Wenbin Yang5 Yiben Cheng et al.
  • 1School of soil and water conservation, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing, China, 100083
  • 2Xilingol Vocational College, Xilingol, China, 026000
  • 3Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA, 77843
  • 4The Sand Forestry Experimental Centre, Chinese Academy of Forestry, Dengkou, Inner Mongolia, China, 015200
  • 5Low-coverage sand control company, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China, 010000

Abstract. What is the water source for ecological restoration plants in arid region is still up to debate. To address this issue, we conducted an in-situ experiment in the Ulan Buh Desert of China. We selected Tamarisk, a common drought-salt-tolerance species in the desert for ecological restoration as our research subject, used a new designed lysimeter to monitor precipitation infiltration, a sap flow system to track reverse sap flow that occurred in shoot, branch, and stem during the precipitation event, and observed the precipitation redistribution process of the Tamarisk plot. The results showed that Tamarisk indeed directly absorb precipitation water, when precipitation occurs, the main stem, lateral branch, and shoot all show the signs of reversed sap flow, and the reversed sap flow accounted for 21.5 % of the annual sap flow in the shoot and branch, and 13.6 % in the stem. Precipitation event in desert was dominated by light precipitation events, which accounted for 81 % of the annual precipitation events. It was found that light precipitation can be directly absorbed by the Tamarisk leaves, especially in nighttime or cloudy days. Even when the precipitation is absent, it was found that desert plants can still absorb unsaturated atmospheric vapor, as reversed sap flow was observed when the atmospheric relative humidity reached 75 %. This study indicated that the effect of light precipitation on desert plants was significant and should not be overlooked in terms of managing the ecological and hydrological systems in arid regions.

Yiben Cheng et al.

Status: open (extended)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2022-392', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Jan 2023 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Yiben Cheng, 31 Jan 2023 reply

Yiben Cheng et al.

Yiben Cheng et al.


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Short summary
Water is the most important limiting factor for plants in an arid region, and plants are often suffered from drought stress during their growth. To adapt to the arid environment, plants have developed certain ways to accommodate the harsh water-deficit environments. This complex relationship is difficult to measure in the field, but Sap Flow is easily found and correlated with water usage. Our results showed that Tamarisk leaves could absorb unsaturated water vapor and precipitation directly.