Diel ecosystem conductance response to vapor pressure deficit is suboptimal and independent of soil moisture

Changjie Lin, Pierre Gentine, Yuefei Huang, Kaiyu Guan, Hyungsuk Kimm, Sha Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ecosystem conductance, which describes ecosystem regulation of water and carbon exchange and links plant functions with the environment, is a critical component in ecosystem and earth system models. However, the behaviors of ecosystem conductance at the ecosystem level and its responses to environmental conditions are still largely unclear. In this study, half-hourly data of 77 eddy-covariance sites from the FLUXNET2015 dataset were used to compare four ecosystem conductance models at the ecosystem level and determine the most consistent vapor pressure deficit (VPD) dependence across plant functional types for varying soil moisture stress levels at the subdaily time scale. We used leaf-level VPD (VPDl), a better indicator of atmospheric dryness at the leaf level, for canopy-level analysis instead of measured atmospheric VPD. Detection of the best-fitted exponent of VPDl indicates that ecosystem conductance responds to VPD between optimality-theory (i.e., VPD−0.5 dependence) and Leuning's (i.e., VPD−1 dependence) models. Accounting for different soil moisture stress levels only affected minimum ecosystem conductance and did not affect the exponent and factor of VPDl, indicating limited diurnal soil moisture-VPDl interactions. These results indicate limited interaction between xylem and stomata at subdaily time scales and that soil moisture effects can be simplified as a regulation of minimum (soil plus canopy) conductance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-34
Number of pages11
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Mar 15 2018


  • Ecosystem conductance
  • GPP
  • Soil moisture
  • Stomatal conductance
  • VPD

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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