We examined the water balance components of an 80-year-old Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) forest stand in the Campine region of Belgium over a ten year period using five very different approaches; our methods ranged from data intensive measurements to process model simulations. Specifically, we used the conservative ion method (CI), the Eddy Covariance technique (EC), an empirical model (WATBAL), and two process models that vary greatly in their temporal and spatial scaling, the ORCHIDEE global land-surface model and SECRETS a stand- to ecosystem-scale biogeochemical process model. Herein we used the EC technique as a standard for the evapotranspiration (ET) estimates. Using and evaluating process based models with data is extremely useful as models are the primary method for integration of small-scale, process level phenomena into comprehensive description of forest stand or ecosystem function. Results demonstrated that the two process models corresponded well to the seasonal patterns and yearly totals of ET from the EC approach. However, both WATBAL and CI approaches overestimated ET when compared to the EC estimates. We found significant relationships between several meteorological variables (i.e., vapour pressure deficit [VPD], mean air temperature [Tair], and global radiation [Rg]) and ET on monthly basis for all approaches. In contrast, few relationships were significant on annual basis. Independent of the method examined, ET exhibited low inter-annual variability. Consequently, drainage fluxes were highly correlated with annual precipitation for all approaches examined, except CI.
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