Atmospheric versus vegetation controls of Amazonian tropical rain forest evapotranspiration: Are the wet and seasonally dry rain forests any different?



[1] This study analyzes evapotranspiration data for three wet and two seasonally dry rain forest sites in Amazonia. The main environmental (net radiation, vapor pressure deficit, and aerodynamic conductance) and vegetation (surface conductance) controls of evapotranspiration are also assessed. Our research supports earlier studies that demonstrate that evapotranspiration in the dry season is higher than that in the wet season and that surface net radiation is the main controller of evapotranspiration in wet equatorial sites. However, our analyses also indicate that there are different factors controlling the seasonality of evapotranspiration in wet equatorial rain forest sites and southern seasonally dry rain forests. While the seasonality of evapotranspiration in wet equatorial forests is driven solely by environmental factors, in seasonally dry forests, it is also biotically controlled with the surface conductance varying between seasons by a factor of approximately 2. The identification of these different drivers of evapotranspiration is a major step forward in our understanding of the water dynamics of tropical forests and has significant implications for the future development of vegetation-atmosphere models and land use and conservation planning in the region.