Long-term and direct measurements of CO2 and water vapour exchange are needed over forested ecosystems to determine their net annual fluxes of carbon dioxide and water. Such measurements are also needed to parameterize and test biogeochemical, ecological and hydrological assessment models. Responding to this need, eddy covariance measurements of CO2 and water vapour were made ever a deciduous forest growing near Oak Ridge, TN, between April 1993 and April 1994. Periodic measurements were made of leaf area index, stomatal resistance, soil moisture and pre-dawn leaf water potential to characterize the gas exchange capacity of the canopy.
Four factors had a disproportionate influence on the seasonal variation of CO2 flux densities. These factors were photon flux densities (during the growing season), temperature (during the dormant season), leaf area index and the occurrence of drought The drought period occurred during the peak of the growing season and caused a significant decline in daily and hourly CO2 flux densities, relative to observations over the stand when soil moisture was plentiful.
The annual net uptake of carbon was calculated by integrating flux measurements and filling missing and spurious data with the relations obtained between measured CO2 fluxes and environmental forcing variables. The net flux of carbon for the period between April 1993 and April 1994 was -525 g C m−2 y−1. This value represents a net flux of carbon from the atmosphere and into the forest. The net annual carbon exchange of this southern temperate broadleaved forest exceeded values measured over a northern temperate forest (which experiences a shorter growing season and has less leaf area) by 200 g C m−2 y−1 (cf. Wofsy et al 1993).
The seasonal variation of canopy evaporation (latent heat flux) was controlled mostly by changes in leaf area and net radiation. A strong depression in evaporation rates was not observed during the drought Over a broadleaved forest large vapour pressure deficits promote evaporation and trees in a mixed stand are able to tap a variety of deep and shallow water sources.