Characterizing evapotranspiration over a meadow ecosystem on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau

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Abstract

[1] To characterize evapotranspiration (ET) over grasslands on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, we examined ET and its relevant environmental variables in a Kobresia meadow from 2002 to 2004 using the eddy covariance method. The annual precipitation changed greatly, with 554, 706, and 666 mm a−1 for the three consecutive calendar years. The annual ET varied correspondingly to the annual precipitation with 341, 407, and 426 mm a−1. The annual ET was, however, constant at about 60% of the annual precipitation. About 85% annual ET occurred during the growing season from May to September, and the averaged ET for this period was 1.90, 2.23, and 2.22 mm/d, respectively for the three consecutive years. The averaged ET was, however, very low (<0.40 mm/d) during the nongrowing season from October to April. The annual canopy conductance (gc) and the Priestley-Taylor coefficient (α) showed the lowest values in the year with the lowest precipitation. This study first demonstrates that the alpine meadow ecosystem is characterized by a low ratio of annual ET to precipitation and that the interannual variation of ET is determined by annual precipitation.

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