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Canopy stomatal conductance is a key physiological factor controlling transpiration from plant canopies, but it is extremely difficult to determine in field environments. The objective of this study was to develop a radiometric method for calculating canopy stomatal conductance for two plant species—wheat and soybean from direct measurements of bulk surface conductance to water vapor and the canopy aerodynamic conductance in controlled-environment chambers. The chamber provides constant net radiation, temperature, humidity, and ventilation rate to the plant canopy. In this method, stepwise changes in chamber CO2 alter canopy temperature, latent heat, and sensible heat fluxes simultaneously. Sensible heat and the radiometric canopy-to-air temperature difference are computed from direct measurements of net radiation, canopy transpiration, photosynthesis, radiometric temperature, and air temperature. The canopy aerodynamic conductance to the transfer of water vapor is then determined from a plot of sensible heat versus radiometric canopy-to-air temperature difference. Finally, canopy stomatal conductance is calculated from canopy surface and aerodynamic conductances. The canopy aerodynamic conductance was 5.5 mol m−2 s−1 in wheat and 2.5 mol m−2s−1 in soybean canopies. At 400 umol mol−1 of CO2 and 86 kPa atmospheric pressure, canopy stomatal conductances were 2.1 mol m−2 s−1 for wheat and 1.1 mol m−2 s−1 for soybean, comparable to canopy stomatal conductances reported in field studies. This method measures canopy aerodynamic conductance in controlled-environment chambers where the log-wind profile approximation does not apply and provides an improved technique for measuring canopy-level responses of canopy stomatal conductance and the decoupling coefficient. The method was used to determine the response of canopy stomatal conductance to increased CO2 concentration and to determine the sensitivity of canopy transpiration to changes in canopy stomatal conductance. These responses are useful for improving the prediction of ecosystem-level water fluxes in response to climatic variables.

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