Characteristics of water vapour condensation, including the onset, duration, and amount of water vapour condensation on moss-dominated biological soil crust (BSC) and dune sand were studied under simulated conditions with varying air temperature and relative humidity. The simulations were performed in a plant growth chamber using an electronic balance recording the weight of condensation. There was a positive linear correlation between the water vapour condensation and relative humidity while the mean temperature was negatively linearly related to amounts of water vapour condensation for both soil surfaces. The amount of water vapour condensation on BSC and dune sand can be described by the difference between air temperature and dew point with an exponential function, indicating that when the difference of air temperature and dew point exceeds a value of 35.3°C, there will be zero water vapour condensed on BSC. In contrast, when the difference of air temperature and dew point exceeds a value of 20.4°C, the water vapour condensation will be zero for dune sand. In general, when the air is fully saturated with water and the dew point is equal to the current air temperature, the water vapour condensed on BSC attained its maximum value of 0.398 mm, whereas it was 0.058 mm for dune sand. In comparison, water vapour condensed on BSC was at a relatively high temperature and low relative humidity, while we did not detect water vapour condensation on the dune sand under the similar conditions. Physical and chemical analyses of the samples pointed to a greater porosity, high content of fine particles, and high salinity for BSC compared to the dune sand. These results highlight that soil physicochemical properties are the likely factors influencing the mechanism of water vapour condensation under specific meteorological conditions, as onset was earlier and the duration was longer for water vapour condensation on BSC in comparison with that of dune sand. This contributed to the greater amount of vapour absorbed on BSC compared to the dune sand under an identical meteorological condition. The feedback of water vapour condensation on BSC formation and its contribution to sustain the revegetation desert ecosystems was discussed.
Volume 130, 2021
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