Biogeosciences (May 2024)

Impact of canopy environmental variables on the diurnal dynamics of water and carbon dioxide exchange at leaf and canopy level

  • R. González-Armas,
  • J. Vilà-Guerau de Arellano,
  • J. Vilà-Guerau de Arellano,
  • M. R. Mangan,
  • O. Hartogensis,
  • H. de Boer

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21
pp. 2425 – 2445


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Quantifying water vapor and carbon dioxide (CO2) exchange dynamics between the land and the atmosphere through observations and modeling is necessary in order to reproduce and project near-surface climate in coupled land–atmosphere models. The exchange of water and CO2 occurs at the leaf surface (leaf level) and in a net manner through exchanges at all the leaf surfaces composing the vegetation canopy and at the soil surface (canopy level). These exchanges depend on the meteorological forcings imposed by the overlying atmosphere (atmospheric boundary layer level). In this paper, we investigate the effect of four canopy environmental variables (photosynthetic active radiation (PAR), water vapor pressure deficit (VPD), air temperature (T), and atmospheric CO2 concentration (Ca)) on the local individual leaf exchange and canopy exchange of water and CO2 at hourly timescales. Additionally, we investigate the effect of atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) processes on the local exchange. To that end, we simultaneously investigated the exchanges of water and CO2 at leaf level and canopy level for an alfalfa field in northern Spain over 1 day in summer 2021. We used comprehensive observations ranging from stomatal conductance to ABL measurements collected during the Land Surface Interactions with the Atmosphere in the Iberian Semi-Arid Environment (LIAISE) experiment. To support the observational analysis, we used a coupled land–atmosphere model (CLASS model) that has representations at all levels considered. To relate how temporal changes of the four environmental variables modify the fluxes of water and CO2, we studied tendency equations of the leaf gas exchange. These mathematical expressions quantify the temporal evolution of the leaf gas exchange as a function of the temporal evolution of PAR, VPD, T, and Ca. To investigate the effects of ABL processes on the local exchange, we developed three modeling experiments that impose surface radiative perturbations by a cloud passage (which perturbed PAR, T, and VPD), entrainment of dry air from the free troposphere (which perturbed VPD), and advection of cold air (which perturbed T and VPD). The model results and observations matched the leaf gas exchange (r2 between 0.23 and 0.67) and canopy gas exchange (r2 between 0.90 and 0.95). The tendency equations of the modeled leaf gas exchange during the study day revealed that the temporal dynamics of PAR were the main contributor to the temporal dynamics of the leaf gas exchange, with atmospheric CO2 temporal dynamics being the least important contributor. From the three modeling experiments with ABL perturbations, the surface radiative changes induced by a cloud perturbed the CO2 exchange the most, whereas all of them perturbed the water exchange to a similar extent. Second-order effects on the dynamics of the leaf gas exchange were also identified using the tendency equations. For instance, the decrease in the net CO2 assimilation rate during the cloud passage caused by a decrease in surface radiation was further enhanced due to the decrease in air temperature also associated with the cloud. With this research we showcase that the proposed tendency equations can disentangle the effect of environmental variables on the leaf exchange of water and CO2 with the atmosphere, as represented in land–surface parameterization schemes. As such, this framework can become a useful tool with which to analyze these schemes in weather and climate models.