Response of water use efficiency to summer drought in a boreal Scots pine forest in Finland
- 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Finland
- 2Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, P.O. Box 48, 00014, Finland
- 3Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
Abstract. The influence of drought on plant functioning has received considerable attention in recent years, however our understanding of the response of carbon and water coupling to drought in terrestrial ecosystems still needs to be improved. A severe soil moisture drought occurred in southern Finland in the late summer of 2006. In this study, we investigated the response of water use efficiency to summer drought in a boreal Scots pine forest (Pinus sylvestris) on the daily time scale mainly using eddy covariance flux data from the Hyytiälä (southern Finland) flux site. In addition, simulation results from the JSBACH land surface model were evaluated against the observed results. Based on observed data, the ecosystem level water use efficiency (EWUE; the ratio of gross primary production, GPP, to evapotranspiration, ET) showed a decrease during the severe soil moisture drought, while the inherent water use efficiency (IWUE; a quantity defined as EWUE multiplied with mean daytime vapour pressure deficit, VPD) increased and the underlying water use efficiency (uWUE, a metric based on IWUE and a simple stomatal model, is the ratio of GPP multiplied with a square root of VPD to ET) was unchanged during the drought. The decrease in EWUE was due to the stronger decline in GPP than in ET. The increase in IWUE was because of the decreased stomatal conductance under increased VPD. The unchanged uWUE indicates that the trade-off between carbon assimilation and transpiration of the boreal Scots pine forest was not disturbed by this drought event at the site. The JSBACH simulation showed declines of both GPP and ET under the severe soil moisture drought, but to a smaller extent compared to the observed GPP and ET. Simulated GPP and ET led to a smaller decrease in EWUE but a larger increase in IWUE because of the severe soil moisture drought in comparison to observations. As in the observations, the simulated uWUE showed no changes in the drought event. The model deficiencies exist mainly due to the lack of the limiting effect of increased VPD on stomatal conductance during the low soil moisture condition. Our study provides a deeper understanding of the coupling of carbon and water cycles in the boreal Scots pine forest ecosystem and suggests possible improvements to land surface models, which play an important role in the prediction of biosphere–atmosphere feedbacks in the climate system.