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Title: Quantifying the effect of nighttime interactions between roots and canopy physiology and their control of water and carbon cycling on feedbacks between soil moisture and terrestrial climatology under variable environmental conditions

The primary objective of this project is to characterize and quantify how the temporal variability of hydraulic redistribution (HR) and its physiological regulation in unmanaged and complex forests is affecting current water and carbon exchange and predict how future climate scenarios will affect these relationships and potentially feed back to the climate. Specifically, a detailed study of ecosystem water uptake and carbon exchange in relation to root functioning was proposed in order to quantify the mechanisms controlling temporal variability of soil moisture dynamic and HR in three active AmeriFlux sites, and to use published data of two other inactive AmeriFlux sites. Furthermore, data collected by our research group at the Duke Free Air CO2 enrichment (FACE) site was also being utilized to further improve our ability to forecast future environmental impacts of elevated CO2 concentration on soil moisture dynamic and its effect on carbon sequestration and terrestrial climatology. The overarching objective being to forecast, using a soil:plant:atmosphere model coupled with a biosphere:atmosphere model, the impact of root functioning on land surface climatology. By comparing unmanaged sites to plantations, we also proposed to determine the effect of land use change on terrestrial carbon sequestration and climatology through its effect on soilmore » moisture dynamic and HR. Our simulations of HR by roots indicated that in some systems HR is an important mechanism that buffers soil water deficit, affects energy and carbon cycling; thus having significant implications for seasonal climate. HR maintained roots alive and below 70% loss of conductivity and our simulations also showed that the increased vapor pressure deficit at night under future conditions was sufficient to drive significant nighttime transpiration at all sites, which reduced HR. This predicted reduction in HR under future climate conditions played an important regulatory role in land atmosphere interactions by affecting whole ecosystem carbon and water balance. Under future climatic scenarios, HR was reduced thus affecting negatively plant water use and carbon assimilation. The discrepancy between the predicted and actual surface warming and atmospheric water vapor caused by the persistence of evapotranspiration during the dry season, increasing energy transfer in the form of latent heat. Under those simulations, we also evaluated how the hydraulic properties of soil and xylem limited the rate of carbon uptake, and carbon net ecosystem exchange. The multilayered hydraulically driven soil vegetation atmosphere carbon and water transfer model was designed to represent processes common to vascular plants, so that ecosystem atmosphere exchange could be captured by the same processes at different sites. Those models shown to be well suited for investigating the impact of drought on forest ecosystems because of its explicit treatment of water transport to leaves. This modeling work also confirmed that unmanaged, mixed hardwood site are more resilient to climatic variations than an adjacent pine plantation, but that future climatic conditions will reverse this trends.« less
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  1. North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC (United States)
  2. Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final report DOE-NCSU-ER65189
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; climate change; elevated CO2; roots; hydraulic redistribution; unmanaged forests; water; surface warming; cloud formation