The response mechanism of the tree stem radius variation to hydro-thermal factors is complex and diverse. The changes of TWD (tree water deficit-induced stem shrinkage) and GRO (growth-induced irreversible stem expansion) are respectively driven by different factors, so that their responses to hydro-thermal factors are different. The stem radius variation and its matching hydro-thermal factors experimental data was measured and determined at 0.5 h time scale in larch (Larix gmelini
Rupr.) forest of the Daxing’anling region of the most northeastern part of China. Response characteristics of the stem radius variation to hydro-thermal factors have been found by analyzing the data under different time windows. The stem radius variation mainly responded to the changes in precipitation and relative humidity. The main driving factors for TWD were sap flow density and solar radiation. The response of GRO to hydro-thermal factors was complex, varied a lot under different time scales. During the analysis of the response of tree radial growth, changes of the stem radius can be divided to TWD and GRO to implement separate studies on their responses to hydro-thermal factors. In this way, it becomes easier to discover the response of TWD under drought stress and the responding mechanism of GRO to hydro-thermal factors.
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