Seasonal contributions of vegetation types to suburban evapotranspiration

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Abstract

[1] Evapotranspiration is an important term of energy and water budgets in urban areas and is responsible for multiple ecosystem services provided by urban vegetation. The spatial heterogeneity of urban surface types with different seasonal water use patterns (e.g., trees and turfgrass lawns) complicates efforts to predict and manage urban evapotranspiration rates, necessitating a surface type, or component-based, approach. In a suburban neighborhood of Minneapolis–Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States, we simultaneously measured ecosystem evapotranspiration and its main component fluxes using eddy covariance and heat dissipation sap flux techniques to assess the relative contribution of plant functional types (evergreen needleleaf tree, deciduous broadleaf tree, cool season turfgrass) to seasonal and spatial variations in evapotranspiration. Component-based evapotranspiration estimates agreed well with measured water vapor fluxes, although the imbalance between methods varied seasonally from a 20% overestimate in spring to an 11% underestimate in summer. Turfgrasses represented the largest contribution to annual evapotranspiration in recreational and residential land use types (87% and 64%, respectively), followed by trees (10% and 31%, respectively), with the relative contribution of plant functional types dependent on their fractional cover and daily water use. Recreational areas had higher annual evapotranspiration than residential areas (467 versus 324 mm yr−1, respectively) and altered seasonal patterns of evapotranspiration due to greater turfgrass cover (74% versus 34%, respectively). Our results suggest that plant functional types capture much of the variability required to predict the seasonal patterns of evapotranspiration among cities, as well as differences in evapotranspiration that could result from changes in climate, land use, or vegetation composition.

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