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Sensitivity analysis of four crop water stress indices to ambient environmental conditions and stomatal conductance


Crop water stress indices (CWSIs) quantify plant water status based on measurement of plant temperature. The goal of CWSI formulation is to normalize measured leaf temperatures based on reference temperatures to remove sensitivity to ambient environmental conditions (e.g., air temperature, humidity, radiation), while retaining sensitivity to plant water status as reflected by stomatal conductance. This study sought to better understand the sensitivity of these temperatures to ambient environmental conditions, and ultimately how they influence various CWSIs. The surface energy balance was modeled to simulate the impacts of input parameter variation on leaf temperature and reference surface temperatures used to calculate four different CWSIs. The performance of the CWSIs were assessed based on their ability to maximize sensitivity to stomatal conductance while minimizing the relative sensitivity to ambient environmental conditions. The sensitivity analyses indicated that all four CWSIs performed poorly in shaded conditions, as they had relatively low sensitivity to stomatal conductance and were sensitive to all environmental parameters. Two CWSIs had high sensitivity to stomatal conductance, and low sensitivity to all environmental parameters except wind speed. None of CWSIs could remove sensitivity to all environmental parameters while retaining sensitivity to stomatal conductance.

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