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Forest evapotranspiration dynamics over a fragmented forest landscape under drought in southwestern Amazonia

May 19, 2021

Ongoing climate change and human conversion of forests to other land uses alter regional evapotranspiration dynamics and, consequently, impact associated hydrological systems in Amazonia. We studied the effects of drought and fragmentation on forest evapotranspiration using the surface energy balance-based model METRIC (Mapping Evapotranspiration at high Resolution with Internalized Calibration) for a fragmented forest landscape in Brazil's Amazonian state of Rondônia.

Dry season (June-August) forest evapotranspiration estimates were produced for the 2009-2011 period that encompassed the 2010 drought event, one of the extreme droughts in the Amazon. METRIC evapotranspiration data were analyzed in relation to climate (monthly precipitation and cumulative water deficit) and forest fragmentation (edge distance from 100m to 1000m from forest edge and edge density). During the dry season of 2009, pre-drought, forest evapotranspiration did not fall below 110mm/month. However, the 2010 drought year showed a drastic decline in evapotranspiration by 32%, to 75mm/month, from July to August. In 2011, evapotranspiration rates were still depressed with August rates dropping as low as 85mm/month. Forest evapotranspiration dynamics were driven mainly by precipitation and corresponding water deficits in the drier years (2010 and 2011), although evapotranspiration deficits along the edges of forest fragments were locally significant, at the landscape scale. The forests near edges (to 100m) had progressively lower evapotranspiration levels than interior forests as dry seasons progressed and these differences were greatest in the 2010 drought year, reaching almost 5%.

Our results suggest that during the driest months, fragmentation exacerbated both the rate and extent of evapotranspiration reductions over forest areas up to 100m from edges, equivalent to ~20% of the forested landscape in our study area.

Publication Year 2021
Title Forest evapotranspiration dynamics over a fragmented forest landscape under drought in southwestern Amazonia
DOI 10.1016/j.agrformet.2021.108446
Authors Izaya Numata, Kul Bikram Khand, Jeppe Kjaersgaard, Mark A. Cochrane, Sonaira S. Silva
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Agricultural and Forest Meteorology
Index ID 70220616
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center