Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences

A maximum hypothesis of transpiration



[1] We hypothesize that the system of liquid water in leaf tissues and the water vapor in the atmosphere tends to evolve towards a potential equilibrium as quickly as possible by maximization of the transpiration rate. We make two assumptions in formulating the transpiration rate: (1) stomatal aperture is directly controlled by guard cell turgor (or leaf water potential); (2) CO2 flux can be used as a nonparametric equivalent of stomatal conductance for a given stomatal function (not necessarily optimal in terms of the water use efficiency for photosynthesis). Transpiration is then expressed as a function of leaf temperature, CO2 flux (as a surrogate of stomatal conductance), and sensible heat flux characterizing the transport mechanism at a given level of radiative energy input. Maximization of transpiration constrained by the energy balance equation leads to vanishing derivatives of transpiration with respect to leaf temperature and CO2 flux. We have obtained observational evidence in support of the proposed hypothesis.