Comparison of Nighttime With Daytime Evapotranspiration Responses to Environmental Controls Across Temporal Scales Along a Climate Gradient

Qiong Han, Tiejun Wang, Lichun Wang, Keith Smettem, Mai Mai, Xi Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding daytime (ETD) and nighttime (ETN) evapotranspiration is critical for accurately evaluating terrestrial water and carbon cycles. However, unlike ETD, the factors influencing ETN remain poorly understood. Here, long-term ETD and ETN data from five FLUXNET sites along a climate gradient in Northern Australia were analyzed to compare their responses to environmental drivers at different temporal scales. We found that (a) across the sites, mean annual ETN/ETD ((Formula presented.) / (Formula presented.)) ranged between 5.1% and 11.7%, which was mainly determined by (Formula presented.) variations. Particularly, vegetation and meteorological variables mostly controlled (Formula presented.), while (Formula presented.) was largely related to air temperature and net radiation (Rn) due to lower nighttime atmospheric water demands; (b) At individual sites, ETD and ETN exhibited higher correlations with meteorological and vegetation variables at monthly timescales than at annual timescales. Monthly ETD and ETN were also strongly coupled, especially under drier climatic conditions. At daily timescales, leaf area index and soil water content (SWC) controlled ETD with SWC being more important at drier sites; whereas, SWC was the dominant factor controlling ETN. At half-hourly timescales, the boosted regression tree method quantitively showed that ETD and ETN were controlled by Rn and SWC, respectively. Overall, the results showed that ETN was less responsive to environmental variables, illustrating that ETD and ETN responded differently to diverse climate regimes and ecosystems at varying temporal scales. These findings provide a critical evaluation for contrasting ETD and ETN interactions in constantly changing environments, which has important implications for ecosystem water balance and land surface processes modeling.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2021WR029638
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


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