Stand-level variation in evapotranspiration in non-water-limited eucalypt forests

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Journal Article
Journal of Hydrology, 2017, 551 pp. 233 - 244
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. To better understand water and energy cycles in forests over years to decades, measurements of spatial and long-term temporal variability in evapotranspiration (Ea) are needed. In mountainous terrain, plot-level measurements are important to achieving this. Forest inventory data including tree density and size measurements, often collected repeatedly over decades, sample the variability occurring within the geographic and topographic range of specific forest types. Using simple allometric relationships, tree stocking and size data can be used to estimate variables including sapwood area index (SAI), which may be strongly correlated with annual Ea. This study analysed plot-level variability in SAI and its relationship with overstorey and understorey transpiration, interception and evaporation over a 670 m elevation gradient, in non-water-limited, even-aged stands of Eucalyptus regnans F. Muell. to determine how well spatial variation in annual Ea from forests can be mapped using SAI. Over the 3 year study, mean sap velocity in five E. regnans stands was uncorrelated with overstorey sapwood area index (SAI) or elevation: annual transpiration was predicted well by SAI (R2 0.98). Overstorey and total annual interception were positively correlated with SAI (R2 0.90 and 0.75). Ea from the understorey was strongly correlated with vapour pressure deficit (VPD) and net radiation (Rn) measured just above the understorey, but relationships between understorey Ea and VPD and Rn differed between understorey types and understorey annual Ea was not correlated with SAI. Annual total Ea was also strongly correlated with SAI: the relationship being similar to two previous studies in the same region, despite differences in stand age and species. Thus, spatial variation in annual Ea can be reliably mapped using measurements of SAI.
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