Evaluating different metrics from the thermal-based two-source energy balance model for monitoring grapevine water stress

Héctor Nieto, María Mar Alsina, William P. Kustas, Omar García-Tejera, Fan Chen, Nicolas Bambach, Feng Gao, Joseph G. Alfieri, Lawrence E. Hipps, John H. Prueger, Lynn G. McKee, Einara Zahn, Elie Bou-Zeid, Andrew J. McElrone, Sebastian J. Castro, Nick Dokoozlian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Precision irrigation management requires operational monitoring of crop water status. However, there is still some controversy on how to account for crop water stress. To address this question, several physiological, several physiological metrics have been proposed, such as the leaf/stem water potentials, stomatal conductance, or sap flow. On the other hand, thermal remote sensing has been shown to be a promising tool for efficiently evaluating crop stress at adequate spatial and temporal scales, via the Crop Water Stress Index (CWSI), one of the most common indices used for assessing plant stress. CWSI relates the actual crop evapotranspiration ET (related to the canopy radiometric temperature) to the potential ET (or minimum crop temperature). However, remotely sensed surface temperature from satellite sensors includes a mixture of plant canopy and soil/substrate temperatures, while what is required for accurate crop stress detection is more related to canopy metrics, such as transpiration, as the latter one avoids the influence of soil/substrate in determining crop water status or stress. The Two-Source Energy Balance (TSEB) model is one of the most widely used and robust evapotranspiration model for remote sensing. It has the capability of partitioning ET into the crop transpiration and soil evaporation components, which is required for accurate crop water stress estimates. This study aims at evaluating different TSEB metrics related to its retrievals of actual ET, transpiration and stomatal conductance, to track crop water stress in a vineyard in California, part of the GRAPEX experiment. Four eddy covariance towers were deployed in a Variable Rate Irrigation system in a Merlot vineyard that was subject to different stress periods. In addition, root-zone soil moisture, stomatal conductance and leaf/stem water potential were collected as proxy for in situ crop water stress. Results showed that the most robust variable for tracking water stress was the TSEB derived leaf stomatal conductance, with the strongest correlation with both the measured root-zone soil moisture and stomatal conductance gas exchange measurements. In addition, these metrics showed a better ability in tracking stress when the observations are taken early after noon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-713
Number of pages17
JournalIrrigation Science
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science


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