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Energy budgets and resistances to energy transport in sparsely vegetated rangeland

January 1, 1992

Partitioning available energy between plants and bare soil in sparsely vegetated rangelands will allow hydrologists and others to gain a greater understanding of water use by native vegetation, especially phreatophytes. Standard methods of conducting energy budget studies result in measurements of latent and sensible heat fluxes above the plant canopy which therefore include the energy fluxes from both the canopy and the soil. One-dimensional theoretical numerical models have been proposed recently for the partitioning of energy in sparse crops. Bowen ratio and other micrometeorological data collected over phreatophytes growing in areas of shallow ground water in central Nevada were used to evaluate the feasibility of using these models, which are based on surface and within-canopy aerodynamic resistances, to determine heat and water vapor transport in sparsely vegetated rangelands. The models appear to provide reasonably good estimates of sensible heat flux from the soil and latent heat flux from the canopy. Estimates of latent heat flux from the soil were less satisfactory. Sensible heat flux from the canopy was not well predicted by the present resistance formulations. Also, estimates of total above-canopy fluxes were not satisfactory when using a single value for above-canopy bulk aerodynamic resistance. ?? 1992.