The role of sky conditions on gross primary production in a mixed deciduous forest

A. J. Oliphant, D. Dragoni, B. Deng, C. S. B. Grimmond, H. -P. Schmid, S. L. Scott

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85 Citations (Scopus)


The role of different sky conditions on diffuse PAR fraction (phi), air temperature (T-a), vapor pressure deficit (vpd) and GPP in a deciduous forest is investigated using eddy covariance observations of CO2 fluxes and radiometer and ceilometer observations of sky and PAR conditions on hourly and growing season timescales. Maximum GPP response occurred under moderate to high PAR and 0 and low vpd. Light response models using a rectangular hyperbola showed a positive linear relation between phi and effective quantum efficiency (alpha = 0.023 phi+0.012, r(2) = 0.994). Since PAR and phi are negatively correlated, there is a tradeoff between the greater use efficiency of diffuse light and lower vpd and the associated decrease in total PAR available for photosynthesis. To a lesser extent, light response was also modified by vpd and T-a. The net effect of these and their relation with sky conditions helped enhance light response under sky conditions that produced higher phi. Six sky conditions were classified from cloud frequency and phi data: optically thick clouds, optically thin clouds, mixed sky (partial clouds within hour), high, medium and low optical aerosol. The frequency and light responses of each sky condition for the growing season were used to predict the role of changing sky conditions on annual GPP. The net effect of increasing frequency of thick clouds is to decrease GPP, changing low aerosol conditions has negligible effect. Increases in the other sky conditions all lead to gains in GPP. Sky conditions that enhance intermediate levels of phi, such as thin or scattered clouds or higher aerosol concentrations from volcanic eruptions or anthropogenic emissions, will have a positive outcome on annual GPP, while an increase in cloud cover will have a negative impact. Due to the phi/PAR tradeoff and since GPP response to changes in individual sky conditions differ in sign and magnitude, the net response of ecosystem GPP to future sky conditions is non-linear and tends toward moderation of change. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)781 - 791
Number of pages11
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2011


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