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Lathuilliere, MJ; Johnson, MS; Donner, SD (2012). Water use by terrestrial ecosystems: temporal variability in rainforest and agricultural contributions to evapotranspiration in Mato Grosso, Brazil. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS, 7(2), 24024.

The state of Mato Grosso, Brazil, has experienced rapid land use changes from the expansion of rain-fed agriculture (primarily soybean and pasture). This study presents changes to evapotranspiration contributions from terrestrial ecosystems in Mato Grosso over the 2000-9 period. Instead of focusing on land use change to infer hydrologic change, in this paper we assess hydrologic changes using remote sensing, meteorological and agricultural production data to determine the rainforest, crop and pasture components of total evapotranspiration. Humid tropical rainforest evapotranspiration represented half of the state's total evapotranspiration in 2000 despite occupying only 40% of the total land area. Annual evapotranspiration fluxes from rainforest declined at a rate of 16.2 km(3) y(-1) (R-2 = 0.82, p-value < 0.01) as a result of deforestation between 2000 and 2009, representing a 25% decline in rainforest evapotranspiration since 2000. By 2009, rainforest cover accounted for only 40% of total evapotranspiration. Over the same period, crop evapotranspiration doubled, but this increase was offset by a decline in pasture evapotranspiration. Pasture fluxes were at least five times larger than crop evapotranspiration fluxes in 2000-9, with increases spatially focused at the agricultural frontier. The results highlight the expanding appropriation of soil moisture stocks for use in Mato Grosso's rain-fed agroecosystems.



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