Plants, Vital Players in the Terrestrial Water Cycle

Tomas E. van den Berg, Satadal Dutta, Elias Kaiser, Silvere Vialet-Chabrand, Martine van der Ploeg, Tim van Emmerik, Miriam Coenders-Gerrits, Marie Claire ten Veldhuis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceedings/Edited volumeChapterScientificpeer-review

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Plant transpiration accounts for about half of all terrestrial evaporation. Plants need water for many vital functions including nutrient uptake, growth and leaf cooling. The regulation of plant water transport by stomata in the leaves leads to the loss of 97% of the water that is taken up via their roots, to the atmosphere. Measuring plant-water dynamics is essential to gain better insight into its roles in the terrestrial water cycle and plant productivity. It can be measured at different levels of integration, from the single cell micro-scale to the ecosystem macro-scale, on time scales from minutes to months. In this contribution, we give an overview of state-of-the-art techniques for plant-water dynamics measurement and highlight several promising innovations for future monitoring. Some of the techniques we will cover include: gas exchange for stomatal conductance and transpiration monitoring, lysimetry, thermometry, heat-based sap flow monitoring, reflectance monitoring including satellite remote sensing, ultrasound spectroscopy, dendrometry, accelometry, scintillometry, stable water isotope analysis and eddy covariance. To fully assess water transport within the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum, a variety of techniques are required to monitor environmental variables in combination with biological responses at different scales. Yet this is not sufficient: to truly account for spatial heterogeneity, a dense network sampling is needed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpringer Water
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-08262-7
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-08261-0
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameSpringer Water
ISSN (Print)2364-6934
ISSN (Electronic)2364-8198

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository ‘You share, we take care!’ – Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • terrestrial water cycle

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