Evapotranspiration (ET) is the largest component of water loss from terrestrial ecosystems; however, large uncertainties exist when estimating the temporal and spatial variations of ET because of concurrent shifts in the magnitude and seasonal distribution of precipitation as well as differences in the response of ecosystem ET to environmental variabilities. In this study, we examined the impacts of precipitation seasonality and ecosystem types on ET quantified by eddy covariance towers from 2002 to 2004 in three ecosystems (grassland, deciduous broadleaf forest, and evergreen needleleaf forest) in the Yukon River Basin, Alaska. The annual precipitation changed greatly in both magnitude and seasonal distribution through the three investigated years. Observations and model results showed that ET was more sensitive to precipitation scarcity in the early growing season than in the late growing season, which was the direct result of different responses of ET components to precipitation in different seasons. The results demonstrated the importance of seasonal variations of precipitation in regulating annual ET and overshadowing the function of annual precipitation. Comparison of ET among ecosystems over the growing season indicated that ET was largest in deciduous broadleaf, intermediate in evergreen needleleaf, and lowest in the grassland ecosystem. These ecosystem differences in ET were related to differences in successional stages and physiologica responses. Copyright 2010 by the American Geophysical Union.
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Impacts of precipitation seasonality and ecosystem types on evapotranspiration in the Yukon River Basin, Alaska