Tree-Level Hydrodynamic Approach for Improved Stomatal Conductance Parameterization

Friday, 19 December 2014
Golnazalsadat Mirfenderesgi1, Gil Bohrer1, Ashley M Matheny2 and Valeriy Yu Ivanov3, (1)Ohio State University Main Campus, Civil, Environmental & Geodetic Engineering, Columbus, OH, United States, (2)Ohio State University Main Campus, Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering, Columbus, OH, United States, (3)University of Michigan, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ann Arbor, MI, United States
The land-surface models do not mechanistically resolve hydrodynamic processes within the tree. The Finite-Elements Tree-Crown Hydrodynamics model version 2 (FETCH2) is based on the pervious FETCH model approach, but with finite difference numerics, and simplified single-beam conduit system. FETCH2 simulates water flow through the tree as a simplified system of porous media conduits. It explicitly resolves spatiotemporal hydraulic stresses throughout the tree’s vertical extent that cannot be easily represented using other stomatal-conductance models. Empirical equations relate water potential at the stem to stomata conductance at leaves connected to the stem (through unresolved branches) at that height. While highly simplified, this approach bring some realism to the simulation of stomata conductance because the stomata can respond to stem water potential, rather than an assumed direct relationship with soil moisture, as is currently the case in almost all models. By enabling mechanistic simulation of hydrological traits, such as xylem conductivity, conductive area per DBH, vertical distribution of leaf area and maximal and minimal water content in the xylem, and their effect of the dynamics of water flow in the tree system, the FETCH2 modeling system enhanced our understanding of the role of hydraulic limitations on an experimental forest plot short-term water stresses that lead to tradeoffs between water and light availability for transpiring leaves in forest ecosystems. FETCH2 is particularly suitable to resolve the effects of structural differences between tree and species and size groups, and the consequences of differences in hydraulic strategies of different species. We leverage on a large dataset of sap flow from 60 trees of 4 species at our experimental plot at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Comparison of the sap flow and transpiration patterns in this site and an undisturbed control site shows significant difference in hydraulic strategies between species which affect their response to the disturbance. We used FETCH2 to conduct a sensitivity analysis of the total stand-level transpiration to the inter-specific differences in hydraulic strategies and used the results to reflect on the future trajectory of the forest, in terms of species composition and transpiration.