Direct partitioning of eddy-covariance water and carbon dioxide fluxes into ground and plant components

Einara Zahn, Elie Bou-Zeid, Stephen P. Good, Gabriel G. Katul, Christoph K. Thomas, Khaled Ghannam, James A. Smith, Marcelo Chamecki, Nelson L. Dias, Jose D. Fuentes, Joseph G. Alfieri, Hyojung Kwon, Kelly K. Caylor, Zhiqiu Gao, Keir Soderberg, Nicolas E. Bambach, Lawrence E. Hipps, John H. Prueger, William P. Kustas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The partitioning of evapotranspiration (ET) into surface evaporation (E) and stomatal-based transpiration (T) is essential for analyzing the water cycle and earth surface energy budget. Similarly, the partitioning of net ecosystem exchange (NEE) of carbon dioxide into respiration (R) and photosynthesis (P) is needed to quantify the controls on its sources and sinks. Promising approaches to obtain these components from field measurements include partitioning models based on analysis of conventional high frequency eddy-covariance data. Here, two such existing approaches, based on similarity between non-stomatal (R and E) and stomatal (P and T) components, are considered: the Modified Relaxed Eddy Accumulation (MREA) and Flux-Variance Similarity (FVS) models. Moreover, a simpler technique is proposed based on a Conditional Eddy-Covariance (CEC) scheme. All approaches were evaluated against independent estimates of transpiration and respiration. The CEC method agreed better with measurements of transpiration over a grass field, with a smaller root mean square error (5.9 W m−2) and higher correlation (0.96). At a forest site, better agreement with soil respiration was found for FVS above the canopy, while CEC and MREA performed better below the canopy. Further application of these methods over a vineyard and a pine forest across different seasons provided insight into the main strengths and weaknesses of each approach. FVS and MREA converge less often when ground flux components dominate, while CEC might result in noisy P and R for small NEE. Finally, in the CEC and MREA framework, the ratio T/ET is shown to be related to the correlation coefficient for carbon dioxide and water vapor concentrations, which can thus be used as a qualitative measure of the importance of stomatal and non-stomatal components. Overall, these results advance the understanding of the skill and agreement of all three methods, and inform future studies where the various approaches can be applied simultaneously and intercompared.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108790
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Mar 15 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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