Soil moisture fluxes in forest and grassland soils were analyzed for a rather dry region in south-central Sweden in order to assess climatologically induced dryness variability. Time series were constructed, using a conceptual soil moisture model, optimised against neutron probe measurements. Data in a 105 yrs climatic record were used as driving variables. A method to deal with the inhomogeneity of the long precipitation record was developed. It was shown that large variations existed, not only between the median values, but even more for the range of the quartiles, depending on the choice of time period. The statistical distribution varied significantly even between the two 50 yrs series, where the latter showed larger fluctuations around the median caused by a trend towards increased amount of high summer soil moisture deficits. Estimates of the interannual variations of possible water deficit stress on vegetation were made. The only time (1883-1987) when there was a calculated risk for drought stress on the forest during four consecutive years was during 1973-1976. This might have increased the vulnerability to the threats of acidification. It was concluded that the use of standard- and return periods can hardly be justified as no sets of average conditions exists.

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