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A Method for Evaluating the Effects of Topography on the Soil Water Balance

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Average solar radiation values for the growing season for various slopes and aspects are used to compute the receipt of solar radiation as percentage differences from the amount received on a horizontal surface. These percentages are shown in graphic form and are used to correct potential evapotranspiration data in computing water balances by the Thornthwaite and Mather method. Water balances were computed for 21 combinations of slope and aspect, for three types of precipitation years--wet, normal and dry--and for two soil moisture storage capacities--4 inches and 10 inches. The type of year was based on departures from a 10-year average obtained from weather records at one station in southern Missouri. The water balances show that for a soil moisture storage of 4 inches, a soil moisture deficit of 2.93 inches occurs on a north 50° slope in a normal year. In a dry year on a 50° west slope, the deficit amounts to 17.61 inches. For the 10-inch storage capacity, the deficit ranges from 1.40 inches to 12.61 inches for the same combination of slope, aspect and type of year. A deficit of 0.08 inch occurs in one month of the growing season during a wet year. The methods used in this paper may be applied to any locality when latitude and average monthly cloud cover for the growing season are taken into account.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor of Forestry at the University of Missouri

Publication date: 1963-12-01

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  • Forest Science is a peer-reviewed journal publishing fundamental and applied research that explores all aspects of natural and social sciences as they apply to the function and management of the forested ecosystems of the world. Topics include silviculture, forest management, biometrics, economics, entomology & pathology, fire & fuels management, forest ecology, genetics & tree improvement, geospatial technologies, harvesting & utilization, landscape ecology, operations research, forest policy, physiology, recreation, social sciences, soils & hydrology, and wildlife management.
    Forest Science is published bimonthly in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.702
    Ranking: 16 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 62.5 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

    Also published by SAF:
    Journal of Forestry
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