Determining water and carbon fluxes over a vegetated surface is important in a context of global environmental changes and the fluxes help in understanding ecosystem functioning. Pursuant to this, the study measured evapotranspiration (ET) using an eddy covariance (EC) system installed over an intact example of the Albany Thicket (AT) vegetation in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Environmental constraints to ET were also assessed by examining the response of ET to biotic and abiotic factors. The EC system comprised of an open path Infrared Gas Analyser and Sonic anemometer and an attendant weather station to measure bi-meteorological variables. Post processing of eddy covariance data was conducted using EddyPro software. Quality assessment of fluxes was also performed and rejected and missing data were filled using the method of mean diurnal variations (MDV). Much of the variation in ET was accounted for by the leaf area index (LAI, p < 0.001, 41%) and soil moisture content (SWC, p < 0.001, 32%). Total measured ET during the experiment was greater than total rainfall received owing to the high water storage capacity of the vegetation and the possibility of vegetation accessing ground water. Most of the net radiation was consumed by sensible heat flux and this means that ET in the area is essentially water limited since abundant energy was available to drive turbulent transfers of energy. Understanding the environmental constraints to ET is crucial in predicting the ecosystem response to environmental forces such as climate change.
- covariance system
- climate change