Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-651
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2019-651
10 Jan 2020
 | 10 Jan 2020
Status: this preprint was under review for the journal HESS but the revision was not accepted.

The effect of rainfall amount and timing on annual transpiration in grazed savanna grassland

Matti Räsänen, Mika Aurela, Ville Vakkari, Johan P. Beukes, Juha-Pekka Tuovinen, Pieter G. Van Zyl, Miroslav Josipovic, Stefan J. Siebert, Tuomas Laurila, Markku Kulmala, Lauri Laakso, Janne Rinne, Ram Oren, and Gabriel Katul

Abstract. The role of precipitation (P) variability on evapotranspiration (ET) and its two components transpiration (T) and evaporation (E) rates from savannas continues to draw significant research interest given its relevance to a number of eco-hydrological applications. The work here reports on six years of measured ET and energy flux components, and estimated T from a grazed savanna grassland collected at a research site situated in Welgegund, South Africa. During this period, annual P varied considerably in amount (421 mm to 614 mm), rainy season length and precipitation intensity. T was estimated using annual water use efficiency and gross primary production determined from eddy-covariance measurements of net ecosystem CO2 exchange rates. The computed annual T was highly constrained to 352 ± 8 mm (T/ET = 0.55) for four wet years when rainfall was near or above the long-term mean. This is explained by the near constant annual tree transpiration and moderate water stress of C4 grasses during these years. In a drought year with intermittent rainfall, the annual ecosystem T was reduced due to grass dieback-regrowth that alters the temporal dynamics of bare soil cover and infiltration, and complicates monthly T/ET relation to leaf-area index (LAI). However, annual ET remains approximately equal to annual precipitation (P) even during the drought year due to increased soil evaporation. Indeed, at annual scales, ET ≈ P and annual T is conservative despite variation in amount and timing in rainfall, due to constant water use of mature trees, and the ability of C4 grasses to maintain transpiration at moderate water stress and effectively use pulsed rainfall.

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Matti Räsänen, Mika Aurela, Ville Vakkari, Johan P. Beukes, Juha-Pekka Tuovinen, Pieter G. Van Zyl, Miroslav Josipovic, Stefan J. Siebert, Tuomas Laurila, Markku Kulmala, Lauri Laakso, Janne Rinne, Ram Oren, and Gabriel Katul
 
Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
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Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
Matti Räsänen, Mika Aurela, Ville Vakkari, Johan P. Beukes, Juha-Pekka Tuovinen, Pieter G. Van Zyl, Miroslav Josipovic, Stefan J. Siebert, Tuomas Laurila, Markku Kulmala, Lauri Laakso, Janne Rinne, Ram Oren, and Gabriel Katul

Data sets

Dataset for "The effect of rainfall amount and timing on annual transpiration in grazed savanna grassland" M. Räsänen, M. Aurela, V. Vakkari, P. Beukes Tuovinen, J.-P. S. Siebert, P. Van Zyl, M. Josipovic, T. Laurila, M. Kulmala, L. Laakso, J. Rinne, R. Oren, and G. G. Katul https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.11322464

Matti Räsänen, Mika Aurela, Ville Vakkari, Johan P. Beukes, Juha-Pekka Tuovinen, Pieter G. Van Zyl, Miroslav Josipovic, Stefan J. Siebert, Tuomas Laurila, Markku Kulmala, Lauri Laakso, Janne Rinne, Ram Oren, and Gabriel Katul

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Latest update: 17 May 2024
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Short summary
The annual ET is approximately equal to precipitation during six measured years for grazed savanna grassland. The computed annual transpiration was highly constrained when rainfall was near or above the long-term mean but was reduced during severe drought year. The developed methodologies can be used in a wide range of arid and semi-arid ecosystems.