LI-COR Systems Selected for Nationwide Measurement of Evapotranspiration in China

Oct 7, 2014

To better understand and control drought and water management for China’s 1.3 billion people, a Chinese research project selected LI-COR Biosciences and its eddy covariance system for nationwide use. The Chinese Ecosystem Research Network (CERN) is measuring a portion of the water cycle called evapotranspiration, a combination of evaporation and transpiration (from plants) on a large “ecosystem-wide” scale to provide insights into water-use efficiency, drought and water management issues.

An expansion of these networks around the world could play an important role in addressing global-scale environmental issues. The LI-COR system that has made this level of research possible is the company’s unique eddy covariance system that measures the exchange of gases (including H2O) between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere.

“LI-COR scientists are dedicated to creating technology that lets researchers around the world gain true, usable knowledge of the environmental conditions influencing all of us. We are driven by what the world needs to know,” says Dave Johnson, LI-COR senior product manager. “Our eddy covariance system makes it possible to discover information on an ecosystem-wide basis. We’re honored to have been chosen by CERN.”

The CERN project includes 27 evapotranspiration towers in different ecosystems across China using LI-COR instruments. CERN joins a number of programs around the world using LI-COR systems. More than 90 percent of flux measurement towers in networks such as the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS), and Ameriflux use LI-COR technology.

Projections show that China anticipates a shortage of water over the next 15 years. The transfer of water from soil and water surfaces through evaporation, and the loss of water from plants as transpiration represent the largest movement of water to the atmosphere. On a global scale, about 65 percent of land precipitation is returned to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration.

Evapotranspiration measurements on individual fields or plots have long played a role in irrigation management, water conservation, plant science research, and plant breeding. Measurements over a larger scale could help address some of the big issues impacting the world. Measuring evapotranspiration is important for regional water management, agriculture, endangered species protection, and the genesis of drought, flood, wildfire, and other natural disasters.

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