Evaluating closed chamber evapotranspiration estimates against eddy covariance measurements in an arctic wetland

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Article - Abstract Only

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Evapotranspiration, Polygonal tundra, Upscaling, Penman-Monteith, Northern Siberia


Evapotranspiration (ET) is an important hydrological flux with a strong influence on greenhouse gas emissions from thawing permafrost. This study examines the suitability of the closed chamber method in characterising the spatial heterogeneity of ET fluxes in a typical polygonal tundra landscape in the Lena River Delta, northern Siberia. Actual evapotranspiration is compared across scales using: (1) ground-based chamber measurements to observe ET at the microsite scale; and (2) tower-based eddy covariance (EC) measurements which provide spatially averaged ET observations at the ecosystem level. Adopting an upscaling approach using EC estimates as a benchmark, the authors assess the suitability of the closed chamber method in an arctic wetland environment. A short closure time (40 s) and a linear model to describe the change in chamber headspace water vapour concentration were employed to estimate ET rates from the chamber measurements. Using a correction factor chamber fluxes were successfully scaled to the EC data. Yet, findings suggest that the performance of the closed chamber method is highly sensitive to the prevailing hydrometeorological conditions, and it is likely that the sorption and desorption of water molecules to the inside of the chamber and tubing has a strong impact on results. A number of methodological issues are presented in this paper which question the use of closed chamber measurements as a stand-alone tool for measuring ET in arctic wetland environments. However, when paired alongside a trusted benchmark, chambers can provide valuable information on ET at the microsite scale.

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