Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Canopy temperature and heat stress are increased by compound high air temperature and water stress and reduced by irrigation - a modeling analysis

Luan, Xiangyu; Vico, Giulia


Crop yield is reduced by heat and water stress and even more when these conditions co-occur. Yet, compound effects of air temperature and water availability on crop heat stress are poorly quantified. Existing crop models, by relying at least partially on empirical functions, cannot account for the feedbacks of plant traits and response to heat and water stress on canopy temperature. We developed a fully mechanistic model, coupling crop energy and water balances, to determine canopy temperature as a function of plant traits, stochastic environmental conditions, and irrigation applications. While general, the model was parameterized for wheat. Canopy temperature largely followed air temperature under well-watered conditions. But, when soil water potential was more negative than -0.14 MPa, further reductions in soil water availability led to a rapid rise in canopy temperature - up to 10 degrees C warmer than air at soil water potential of -0.62 MPa. More intermittent precipitation led to higher canopy temperatures and longer periods of potentially damaging crop canopy temperatures. Irrigation applications aimed at keeping crops under well-watered conditions could reduce canopy temperature but in most cases were unable to maintain it below the threshold temperature for potential heat damage; the benefits of irrigation in terms of reduction of canopy temperature decreased as average air temperature increased. Hence, irrigation is only a partial solution to adapt to warmer and drier climates.

Published in

Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
2021, Volume: 25, number: 3, pages: 1411-1423