Canopy Temperature Is Regulated by Ecosystem Structural Traits and Captures the Ecohydrologic Dynamics of a Semiarid Mixed Conifer Forest Site

Mostafa Javadian, William K. Smith, Kangsan Lee, John F. Knowles, Russell L. Scott, Joshua B. Fisher, David J.P. Moore, Willem J.D. van Leeuwen, Greg Barron-Gafford, Ali Behrangi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Plant canopy temperature (Tc) is partly regulated by evaporation and transpiration from the canopy surface and can be used to infer changes in stomatal regulation and vegetation water stress. In this study, we used a thermal Unmanned Aircraft Systems in conjunction with eddy covariance, sap flow, and spectral reflectance data to assess the diurnal characteristics of Tc and water stress status over a semiarid mixed conifer forest in Arizona, USA. Diurnal Tc dynamics were closely related to tree sap flow and changes in spectral reflectance associated with stomatal regulation. Consistent with previously reported deviations, we found that on average Tc was 1.8°C lower than the above canopy air temperature (Ta). However, the relationship between Tc and Ta varied significantly according to tree density and tree height classes, with taller and denser trees exhibiting relatively low |Tc-Ta| (2.4 and 2.1°C cooler canopies, respectively) compared to shorter and less-dense tree stands (1.7 and 1.5°C cooler canopies, respectively). We used these data to evaluate space-borne diurnal measurements of Tc and water stress from the ECOsystem Spaceborne Thermal Radiometer Experiment on Space Station (ECOSTRESS) mission. We found that ECOSTRESS observations of Tc accurately tracked seasonal shifts in diurnal surface temperatures and vegetation water stress, and that site-level observations of heterogeneity in forest composition and structure could be applied to separate the processes of canopy transpiration and soil evaporation within the ECOSTRESS footprint. This study demonstrates how proximal and satellite remote sensing approaches can be combined to reveal the diurnal and seasonally dynamic nature of Tc and water stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021JG006617
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • canopy temperature
  • diurnal vegetation dynamics
  • ecohydrologic dynamics
  • semiarid mixed conifer forest
  • thermal UAS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Palaeontology


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