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Evapotranspiration and water balance of high-elevation grassland on the Tibetan Plateau

Title data

Coners, Heinz ; Babel, Wolfgang ; Willinghöfer, Sandra ; Biermann, Tobias ; Köhler, Lars ; Seeber, Elke ; Foken, Thomas ; Ma, Yaoming ; Yang, Yongping ; Miehe, Georg ; Leuschner, Christoph:
Evapotranspiration and water balance of high-elevation grassland on the Tibetan Plateau.
In: Journal of Hydrology. Vol. 533 (2016) . - pp. 557-566.
ISSN 0022-1694
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.12.021

Abstract in another language

High-elevation grasslands of the Cyperaceae Kobresia pygmaea cover nearly half a million km2 on the Tibetan Plateau. As a consequence of climate change, precipitation patterns in this monsoon-influenced region may change with possible consequences for grassland productivity. Yet, not much is known about the water cycle in this second largest alpine ecosystem of the world. We measured the evapotranspiration of a high-elevation Kobresia pasture system at 4400 m a.s.l. in the south-eastern part of the plateau in two summers using three different approaches, weighable micro-lysimeters, eddy covariance measurements, and water balance modeling with the soil-plant-atmosphere transfer model SEWAB. In good agreement among the three approaches, we found ET rates of 4-6 mm d-1 in moist summer periods (June – August) and ~2 mm d-1 in dry periods, despite the high elevation and a leaf area index of only ~1. Measured ET rates were comparable to rates reported from alpine grasslands at 1500-2500 m a.s.l. in temperate mountains, and also matched ET rates of managed lowland grasslands in the temperate zone. At the study site with 430 mm annual precipitation, low summer rainfall reduced ET significantly and infiltration into the subsoil occurred only in moist periods. Our results show that the evapotranspiration of high-elevation grasslands at 4400 m can be as high as in lowland grasslands despite large altitudinal changes in abiotic and biotic drivers of ET, and periodic water shortage is likely to influence large parts of the Tibetan Kobresia pastures.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a journal
Refereed: Yes
Additional notes: BAYCEER132937
Institutions of the University: Research Institutions
Research Institutions > Research Centres
Research Institutions > Research Centres > Bayreuth Center of Ecology and Environmental Research- BayCEER
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Professorship Micrometeorology > Professorship Micrometeorology - Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christoph K. Thomas
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences > Professorship Micrometeorology
Faculties
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences
Faculties > Faculty of Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences > Department of Earth Sciences
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 500 Science
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2016 07:18
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2016 07:18
URI: https://eref.uni-bayreuth.de/id/eprint/33866