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Evaporative processes on vegetation: An inside look

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While evaporation is the largest water consumer of terrestrial water, its importance is often (limitedly) linked to increasing crop productivities. As a consequence, our knowledge of the evaporation process is highly biased by agricultural settings, and results in erroneous estimates of evaporation for other land surfaces and especially for forest systems. The reason why crop and forest systems differ has to do with the vegetation height and what is happening in the space between the plant top and surface. Forests are multi-layered systems, where under the tallest tree species, lower vegetation layers are present. These lower vegetation layers transpire, but at a different rate then the main vegetation, since the atmospheric conditions are different under the canopy. Additionally, the sub-vegetation layers, and also the forest floor, intercept water. Next to different atmospheric conditions per layer, the interception process is highly complex due to differences in interception capacity and a time delay caused by the cascade of water when water flows from the top canopy down to the forest floor. Lastly, forests also have the capacity to store heat and vapor in the air column, biomass, and soil. While this energy storage can be up to 110 W/m 2 it is often neglected in evaporation models. To get a better understanding of what is happening inside a forest, for the purpose of evaporation modeling, we should make use of new sensing techniques that allow identifying the rainfall, energy, and evaporation partitioning. This will help to improve evaporation estimates for tall vegetation, like forest, and allow spatial up scaling.




Coenders-Gerrits, M., Schilperoort, B., & Jiménez-Rodríguez, C. (2020). Evaporative processes on vegetation: An inside look. In Precipitation Partitioning by Vegetation: A Global Synthesis (pp. 34–47). Springer International Publishing.

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