Integration of soil moisture in SEBS for improving evapotranspiration estimation under water stress conditions

M. Gökmen*, Z. Vekerdy, A. Verhoef, W. Verhoef, O. Batelaan, C. van der Tol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)
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In this paper we integrate the information about water stress into SEBS, one of the surface energy balance models that employ remote sensing (RS) data. The level of water stress is taken into account in the calculation of sensible heat, through a modified definition of kB− 1, the parameter that summarizes the excess aerodynamic resistance to heat transfer compared to momentum transfer. Surface energy balance models are employed to obtain evapotranspiration as the remainder of available energy minus sensible heat flux (H). These models assume that information on the ratio of actual to potential evaporation is implicitly embedded in the land surface temperature. This assumption is usually adequate where available energy is the limiting factor for evapotranspiration (ET), but there is a problem when water availability becomes limiting for ET. In this case, the daily evapotranspiration is often overestimated, in particular for sparsely vegetated semi-arid regions, because of an underestimation of sensible heat flux for these areas. Our method remedies this shortcoming by progressively decreasing kB− 1 with increasing levels of water stress. This decreases aerodynamic resistance, and hence increases H, leading to lower estimates of ET. The decrease of kB− 1 with a rise in plant water stress is based on general plant physiological observations related to vertical canopy stomatal conductance profiles, which affects the exchange of sensible and latent heat between the canopy and the atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-274
JournalRemote sensing of environment
Publication statusPublished - 2012




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