Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Tree Physiol. 1999 Aug;19(10):681-687.

Potential errors in measurement of nonuniform sap flow using heat dissipation probes.

Author information

  • 1Hawaii Agriculture Research Center, 99-193 Aiea Heights Drive, Suite 300, Aiea, HI 96701, USA.


The empirical calibration of Granier-type heat dissipation sap flow probes that relate temperature difference (DeltaT) to sap velocity (v) was reevaluated in stems of three tropical tree species. The original calibration was confirmed when the entire heated probe was in contact with conducting xylem, but mean v was underestimated when part of the probe was in contact with nonconducting xylem or bark. Analysis of the effects of nonuniform sap velocity profiles on heat dissipation estimates showed that errors increased as v and the proportion of the probe in nonconducting wood increased. If half of a 20-mm probe is in sapwood with a v of 0.15 mm s(-1) and the other half is in nonconducting wood, then mean v for the whole probe can be underestimated by as much as 50%. A correction was developed that can be used if the proportion of the probe in nonconducting wood is known. Even with the entire heated probe in contact with conducting xylem, v would be underestimated when radial velocity gradients are present. In this case, the error would be smaller except when velocity gradients are very steep, as can occur in species with ring-porous wood anatomy. Errors occur because the relationship between DeltaT and v is nonlinear. Mean DeltaT along the probe is therefore not a measure of mean v, and users of heat dissipation probes should not assume that v is integrated along the length of the probe. The same type of error can occur when DeltaT is averaged through time while v is changing, but the error is small unless there are sudden, step changes between zero and high sap velocity. It is recommended that relatively short probes (20 mm or less) be used and that probes longer than the depth of conducting sapwood be avoided. Multiple probes inserted to a range of depths should be used in situations where steep gradients in v are expected. If these conditions are met, heat dissipation probes remain useful and widely applicable for measuring sap flow in woody stems.

[PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk