Energy balance of six common landscape surfaces and the influence of surface properties on gas exchange of four containerized tree species

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Scientia Horticulturae







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Gas exchange and growth of woody landscape plants is strongly affected by underlying surfaces. In urban areas, plants are subjected to energy balance characteristics of a variety of surfaces. We investigated energy balance properties of six urban surfaces: asphalt, gravel rock mulch, lava rock mulch, concrete, pine bark mulch, and turf. Each summer over a 3-year period, incoming global shortwave radiation, surface temperature, surface reflectivity (albedo), soil temperature below each surface, and soil heat flux were measured for each surface, and total incoming radiation, thermal conductivity, and longwave radiation emitted by each surface were calculated. Differences in surface properties were analyzed by regression analysis. Albedo was greatest for concrete and least for lava rock mulch, while thermal conductivity was greatest for asphalt and least for lava rock and pine bark mulches. Under maximum incoming total radiation, regression analysis indicated: soil heat flux was greatest under asphalt and concrete and least under lava rock and pine bark mulches; soil temperature below each surface was greatest for asphalt and concrete and least for pine bark mulch; surface temperature was greatest for pine bark mulch and least for turf; and longwave radiation flux of each surface was greatest for pine bark mulch and least for turf. This research revealed that more energy was conducted into the soil below asphalt and concrete, and that a greater portion of incoming radiation was prevented from entering the soil below pine bark and lava rock mulches than below other surfaces. Due to these effects, and the lack of evaporative cooling, surface temperatures were greater, and more longwave radiation was emitted from non-vegetative surfaces than from turf. In a concurrent study, we investigated if the energy balance of turf, pine bark mulch, and asphalt surfaces influenced gas exchange of four containerized tree species grown over each surface. On several occasions over a 2-year period, morning-to-evening measurements of stomatal conductance, leaf temperature, and plant water loss were made on containerized Bechtel crabapple (Malus ionensis ‘Plena’), Norway maple (Acer platanoides ‘Crimson King’), globe willow (Salix matsudana ‘Navajo’) and American plane tree (Platanus occidentalis). Leaves over pine bark mulch and asphalt intercepted more longwave radiation and generally had greater leaf temperature and leaf-to-air vapor difference than leaves over turf. As a result, trees over non-vegetative surfaces generally had lower stomatal conductance and water loss than trees over turf.

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