Proposed Hydrodynamic Model Increases the Ability of Land-Surface Models to Capture Intra-Daily Dynamics of Transpiration and Canopy Structure Effects
Abstract:Hydraulic limitations are known to control transpiration in forest ecosystems when the soil is drying or when the vapor pressure deficit between the air and stomata is very large, but they can also impact stomatal apertures under conditions of adequate soil moisture and lower evaporative demand. We use the NACP dataset of latent heat flux measurements and model observations for multiple sites and models to demonstrate models’ difficulties in capturing intra-daily hysteresis. We hypothesize that this is a result of un-resolved afternoon stomata closure due to hydrodynamic stresses. The current formulations for stomatal conductance and the empirical coupling between stomatal conductance and soil moisture used by these models does not resolve the hydrodynamic process of water movement from the soil to the leaves. This approach does not take advantage of advances in our understanding of water flow and storage in the trees, or of tree and canopy structure. A more thorough representation of the tree-hydrodynamic processes could potentially remedy this significant source of model error.
In a forest plot at the University of Michigan Biological Station, we use measurements of sap flux and leaf water potential to demonstrate that trees of similar type - late successional deciduous trees – have very different hydrodynamic strategies that lead to differences in their temporal patterns of stomatal conductance and thus hysteretic cycles of transpiration. These differences will lead to large differences in conductance and water use based on the species composition of the forest. We also demonstrate that the size and shape of the tree branching system leads to differences in extent of hydrodynamic stress, which may change the forest respiration patterns as the forest grows and ages. We propose a framework to resolve tree hydrodynamics in global and regional models based on the Finite-Elements Tree-Crown Hydrodynamics model (FETCH) –a hydrodynamic model that can resolve the fast dynamics of stomatal conductance. FETCH simulates water flow through a tree as a system of porous media conduits and calculates the amount of hydraulic limitation to stomatal conductance, given the atmospheric and biological variables from the global model, and could replace the current empirical formulation for stomatal adjustment based on soil moisture.