Using soil water isotopes to infer the influence of contrasting urban green space on ecohydrological partitioning

Lena Marie Kuhlemann* (Corresponding Author), Doerthe Tetzlaff, Aaron Smith, Birgit Kleinschmit, Chris Soulsby

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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In cities around the world, urban green spaces provide a range of benefits and ecosystem services. However, recent years have shown how prolonged warm and dry periods can affect urban water resources and lead to water stress in vegetation in urban green spaces, even in temperate regions. Consequently, quantitative knowledge about ecohydrological partitioning in different types of urban green space is crucial for balancing sustainable water needs in cities during future challenges of increasing urbanization and climate warming. Using isotopic tracers in precipitation and soil water, along with conventional hydrometric measurements in a plot-scale study in Berlin, Germany, we investigated water partitioning under different generic types of urban vegetation (grassland, shrub and trees). This allowed for the assessment of urban vegetation effects on evapotranspiration, subsurface flow paths and storage during a prolonged drought period with episodic rainfall. Despite higher soil evaporation losses under urban grassland, higher interception and transpiration likely contributed to slower turnover of soil water and older groundwater recharge under urban trees. Shrub vegetation seemed to be most resilient to prolonged drought periods, with lower evapotranspiration losses. Our results contribute to a better understanding of ecohydrological partitioning under mixed urban vegetation communities and an evidence base for better adaptive management of urban water and irrigation strategies to sustainably meet the water demands of urban green spaces in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)927-943
Number of pages17
JournalHydrology and Earth System Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2021


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