Evapotranspiration estimates from eddy covariance towers and hydrologic modeling in managed forests in Northern Wisconsin, USA
Direct measurement of ecosystem evapotranspiration by the eddy covariance method and simulation modeling were employed to quantify the growing season (May–October) evapotranspiration (ET) of eight forest ecosystems representing a management gradient in dominant forest types and age classes in the Upper Great Lakes Region from 2002 to 2003. We measured net exchange of water vapor fluxes in a 63-year-old mature hardwood(MHW) stand, a 60-year-old mature red pine (MRP) stand, a 3-year-old young hardwood (YHW) stand, a 17-year-old intermediate hardwood (IHW) stand, a young red pine (YRP age 8) stand, an intermediate red pine (IRP age 21) stand, and two pine barren ecosystems burned 12 years (PB1) and 2 years (PB2) ago. Field data suggested that there were no significant differences in growing season (June–September) ET/precipitation ratio among all ecosystems in 2002. However, PB2 had significantly lower ET/precipitation than those of other ecosystems in 2003. The ratios were much higher for all ecosystems, up to 0.90 for IHW, during the peak summer months (June–July). PB2 was the lowest (0.64) during that period. Stand leaf area index alone did not explain ecosystem ET at the landscape scale. Seasonal ET values measured by the eddy covariance method were significantly lower than those simulated with a process-based hydrologic model, MIKE SHE. Our integration approach combined with field measurements and simulation modeling proved to be useful in providing a full picture of the effects of forest cover type change on landscape scale water balance at multiple temporal scales. The ET procedure used in the MIKE SHE model needs improvement to fully account for the effects of vapor pressure deficit on tree transpiration. Seasonal distributions of ET coincided with precipitation in the growing season, when fluxes estimated by both field and models were the highest. The simulation model suggests that removal of conifer forests in the study region may reduce ET immediately by 113–30 mm/year or about 20%, but our field data suggests that ET can recover within 8–25 years from re-growth of hardwood forests.