Assessing the interplay between canopy energy balance and photosynthesis with cellulose 18O: large-scale patterns and independent ground-truthing. Academic Article uri icon


  • There are few whole-canopy or ecosystem scale assessments of the interplay between canopy temperature and photosynthesis across both spatial and temporal scales. The stable oxygen isotope ratio (18O) of plant cellulose can be used to resolve a photosynthesis-weighted estimate of canopy temperature, but the method requires independent confirmation. We compare isotope-resolved canopy temperatures derived from multi-year homogenization of tree cellulose 18O to canopy-air temperatures weighted by gross primary productivity (GPP) at multiple sites, ranging from warm temperate to boreal and subalpine forests. We also perform a sensitivity analysis for isotope-resolved canopy temperatures that showed errors in plant source water 18O lead to the largest errors in canopy temperature estimation. The relationship between isotope-resolved canopy temperatures and GPP-weighted air temperatures was highly significant across sites (p<0.0001, R2=0.82), thus offering confirmation of the isotope approach. The previously observed temperature invariance from temperate to boreal biomes was confirmed, but the greater elevation of canopy temperature above air temperature in the boreal forest was not. Based on the current analysis, we conclude that canopy temperatures in the boreal forest are as warm as those in temperate systems because day-time-growing-season air temperatures are similarly warm.

published proceedings

  • Oecologia

altmetric score

  • 4.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Helliker, B. R., Song, X., Goulden, M. L., Clark, K., Bolstad, P., Munger, J. W., ... Burns, S. P.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Helliker, Brent R||Song, Xin||Goulden, Michael L||Clark, Kenneth||Bolstad, Paul||Munger, J William||Chen, Jiquan||Noormets, Asko||Hollinger, David||Wofsy, Steve||Martin, Timothy||Baldocchi, Dennis||Euskirchenn, Eugenie||Desai, Ankur||Burns, Sean P

publication date

  • August 2018