Wednesday, August 30, 2023

A Rosetta stone for connecting the various forms of the Darcy-Buckingham law use in Hydrology and Plants Physiology

The information presented here is derived from the study conducted by Carminati and Javaux in 2020, which aimed to provide insights into plant hydraulics. Carminati referred to the work of Kroeber et al. in 2014, who conducted extensive measurements on a variety of plants and reported their data. However, a discrepancy arises between hydrologists and plant physiologists in the units used to measure hydraulic conductivity. While hydrologists measure it in meters per second (m/s), plant physiologists measure it in kilograms per meter per Pascal second [Kg m/(Pa s)].

In their study, Kroeber et al. reported conductivity per unit area, denoted as Kk, measured in kilograms per meter per Pascal second [Kg/(m Pa s)]. This unit might seem unfamiliar or obscure. To bridge the gap between my background and the new papers, Carminati and Javaux provide a clue. They suggest that the relationship between Kk and the commonly used hydraulic conductivity, K_w, expressed in centimeters per day (cm/day), can be established using the enigmatic equation K_w = g * 100 * 10^(-6) * 3600 * 24 * Kk. Now, the question arises: Is 'g' referring to the acceleration due to gravity?

So I dedicated a couple of days of my life to build a Rosetta Stone to translate the units and check the coherence of what done. The result is a short paper by me and Concetta D'Amato that you  can find here

For obtaining this I had to walk through the valley of the water potentials expressed in different units, but also this can be interesting for the reader.  

Next step is understand which is the value of the cross section through which the water flow to obtain, at the end, real cubic meter per second or kg per second. 


Carminati, Andrea, and Mathieu Javaux. 2020. “Soil Rather Than Xylem Vulnerability Controls Stomatal Response to Drought.” Trends in Plant Science 25 (9): 868–80.

Kröber, Wenzel, Shouren Zhang, Merten Ehmig, and Helge Bruelheide. 2014. “Linking Xylem Hydraulic Conductivity and Vulnerability to the Leaf Economics Spectrum—A Cross-Species Study of 39 Evergreen and Deciduous Broadleaved Subtropical Tree Species.” PloS One 9 (11): e109211.

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