Ecosystem scale measurements of biomass water using cosmic-ray neutrons

Trenton E. Franz, M Zreda, Rafael Rosolem, Brian Hornbuckle, Samantha Irvin, Henry Adams, Thomas Kolb, Chris Zweck, W. J. Shuttleworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Accurate estimates of biomass are key for understanding the global carbon cycle. However, measurements of biomass and water in the biomass are difficult to obtain at a scale consistent with measurements of mass and energy transfer, leading to substantial uncertainty in dynamic global vegetation models. Here we use a novel cosmic-ray neutron method to estimate average water content of biomass over an area of ~35 ha. We present two experimental studies, one in a ponderosa pine forest, the other in a maize field, where neutron-derived estimates of biomass water are consistent with direct observations. Given the new scale of observation we anticipate these measurements will be useful to many scientific disciplines ranging from atmospheric science, hydrology, ecology, forestry and agronomy.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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