EGU22-4268, updated on 17 Aug 2023
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Bridging the gap between leaf surface and the canopy air space: Leaf size matters for heat transfer resistance at canopy-scale

Gitanjali Thakur1,2, Stanislaus Schymanski1, Ivonne Trebs1, Kaniska Mallick1, Mauro Suils1, Olivier Eiff3, and Erwin Zehe2
Gitanjali Thakur et al.
  • 1Environmental Research and Innovation (ERIN), Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST), Belvaux, Luxembourg (
  • 2Institute of Water Resources and River Basin Management, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 3Institute for Hydromechanics, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany

The concept of canopy-scale resistances was developed to investigate and evaluate the transfer of momentum, heat and mass from the leaf surface to the canopy air space and to the atmosphere. Therefore, reliable estimates of resistances are of fundamental importance for studying the ecosystem scale fluxes and land-atmosphere interaction. The canopy-scale resistance has two components: the leaf boundary layer resistance and canopy-air-to-atmosphere resistance. In big-leaf conceptualizations, canopy-scale resistances are represented in a single term called aerodynamic resistance, which refers to the resistance between an idealized ‘big-leaf’ and the atmosphere for the transfer of momentum, heat and mass. A decent amount of literature exists on the estimation of aerodynamic resistances for various ecosystems based on the roughness length parametrizations and atmospheric stability correction. Most of these parametrizations do not include the leaf boundary layer explicitly and therefore rely on a conceptual 'aerodynamic temperature' at some distance above the leaf surface. This gap hampers reliable modelling of canopy gas exchange (transpiration and CO2 assimilation) as these processes happen directly at the leaf surface and strongly rely on accurately capturing the leaf surface temperature. To bridge this gap, an additional resistance based on a ‘kB-1' parametrization is commonly added to the classical aerodynamic resistance.


The objective of the present study is to estimate the total resistance to heat transfer from the heat exchanging surfaces to the measurement height and to find the most appropriate mathematical formulation for this resistance. We used radiometric and eddy covariance (EC) measurements from a wide range of land cover types and estimated the total resistance to heat transport using measured fluxes and radiometric surface temperatures by inverting the flux-profile equation. We also performed a comprehensive comparison of total resistance estimates with commonly used stability and roughness-based resistance formulations, including ‘KB-1' parametrizations and the momentum flux resistance inverted from EC measurements. We found that total resistances were consistently greater than the roughness length-based resistance parametrizations at most of the study sites. We further found that the difference between the total and aerodynamic resistance can be largely explained by dominant leaf sizes at the individual sites.


Based on these results, we propose a consistent canopy resistance formulation by explicitly considering leaf sizes and leaf boundary layer resistances in combination with an adequate representation of aerodynamic canopy-atmosphere resistance. This approach will enable a consistent coupling of the aerodynamic process with physiological leaf-scale processes such as photosynthesis and stomatal control, which depend on and interact with leaf temperature, and aerodynamic stability.


How to cite: Thakur, G., Schymanski, S., Trebs, I., Mallick, K., Suils, M., Eiff, O., and Zehe, E.: Bridging the gap between leaf surface and the canopy air space: Leaf size matters for heat transfer resistance at canopy-scale, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-4268,, 2022.


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