Observations of leaf stomatal conductance at the canopy scale: An atmospheric modeling perspective

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Plant stomata play a key role in the redistribution of energy received on vegetated land into sensible and latent heat. As a result, they have a considerable impact on the atmospheric planetary boundary layer, the hydrologic cycle, the climate, and the weather. Current parameterizations of the stomatal mechanism in state-of-the-art atmospheric models are based on empirical relations that are established at the leaf scale between stomatal conductance and environmental conditions. In order to evaluate these parameterizations, an experiment was carried out on a potato field in New Jersey during the summer of 1989. Stomatal conductances were measured within a small homogeneous area in the middle of the potato field and under a relatively broad range of atmospheric conditions. A large variability of stomatal conductances was observed. This variability, which was associated with the variability of micro-environmental and physiological conditions that is found even in a homogeneous canopy, cannot be simulated explicitly on the scale of a single agricultural field and, a fortiori, on the scale of atmospheric models. Furthermore, this variability could not be related to the environmental conditions measured at a height of 2 m above the plant canopy simultaneously with the conductances, reinforcing the concept of scale decoupling suggested by Jarvis and McNaughton (1986) and McNaughton and Jarvis (1991). Thus, for atmospheric modeling purposes, a parameterization of stomatal conductance at the canopy scale using external environmental forcing conditions seems more appropriate than a parameterization based on leaf-scale stomatal conductance, as currently adopted in state-of-the-art atmospheric models. The measured variability was characterized by a lognormal probability density function (pdf) that remained relatively stable during the entire measuring period. These observations support conclusions by McNaughton and Jarvis (1991) that, unlike current parameterizations, a parameterization of plant stomata applied on a field (or larger) scale, might not require inclusion of the complex relations found at the leaf scale between stomata and their microenvironment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-148
Number of pages22
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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