Transpiration in the Global Water Cycle

Friday, 19 December 2014: 10:20 AM
William H Schlesinger, Cary Institute, Millbrook, NY, United States and Scott Jasechko, University of New Mexico Main Campus, Albuquerque, NM, United States; University of Calgary, Geography, Calgary, AB, Canada
A compilation of 81 studies that have partitioned evapotranspiration (ET) into its components—transpiration (T) and evaporation (E)—at the ecosystem scale indicates that T accounts for 61% (±15% s.d.) of ET and returns approximately 39±10% of incident precipitation (P) to the atmosphere, creating a dominant force in the global water cycle. T as a proportion of ET is highest in tropical rainforests (70±14 %) and lowest in steppes, shrublands and deserts (51±15%), but there is no relationship of T/ET versus P across all available data (R2 = 0.01). Changes to transpiration due to increasing CO2 concentrations, land use changes, shifting ecozones and climate warming are expected to have significant impacts upon runoff and groundwater recharge, reflecting human impacts on the global biogeochemical cycle of water.