Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Abstract. Heat balance methods of stem flow measurement offer the opportunity to measure directly the mass flow rate of water in plants. We have tested one such approach; the constant power heat balance method of Sakuratani (1981). The results supported his statement of an approximate accuracy of 10% when measuring the transpiration rate of herbaceous plants. The response to sudden changes in stem flow rate is not instantaneous, but investigation of the time constant shows that it decreases as stem flow increases, to the extent that, at flow rates typical of daytime conditions the system is capable of accurately tracking changes in stem flow within 5 min or less.We describe a new gauge design that is relatively rugged, simple to use with an appropriate digital datalogger and suitable for field use over prolonged periods of time. It does not injure or penetrate the stem, is amenable to continuous and direct recording of the mass flow rate of water in the stem and requires no calibration. A further refinement, which should improve both the accuracy and the dynamic response of the system, is proposed.
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