Water and Energy Balances in the Soil–Plant–Atmosphere Continuum

Authored by: Steven R. Evett , John H. Prueger , Judy A. Tolk

Handbook of Soil Sciences Properties and Processes

Print publication date:  November  2011
Online publication date:  November  2011

Print ISBN: 9781439803059
eBook ISBN: 9781439803066
Adobe ISBN:


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Energy fluxes at soil–atmosphere and plant–atmosphere interfaces can be summed to zero when the surfaces, including plants and plant residues, have no or negligible capacity for energy storage. The resulting energy balance equations may be written in terms of physical descriptions of these fluxes and have been the basis for problem casting and solving in diverse fields of environmental and agricultural science such as estimation of evapotranspiration (ET) from vegetated surfaces, estimation of evaporation from bare soil, rate of soil heating in spring (important for timing of seed germination), rate of residue decomposition (dependent on temperature and water content at the soil surface), and many other problems. The water balances at these surfaces are implicit in the energy balance equations. So, the soil water balance equation, though different from the surface energy balances, is linked to them; a fact that has often been ignored in practical problem solving. In this chapter the energy balances will be discussed first, followed by the water balance in Section 6.3.

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