Evapotranspiration on western U.S. rivers estimated using the Enhanced Vegetation Index from MODIS and data from eddy covariance and Bowen ratio flux towers

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Journal Article
Remote Sensing Of Environment, 2005, 97 (3), pp. 337 - 351
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We combined remote sensing and in-situ measurements to estimate evapotranspiration (ET) from riparian vegetation over large reaches of western U.S. rivers and ET by individual plant types. ET measured from nine flux towers (eddy covariance and Bowen ratio) established in plant communities dominated by five major plant types on the Middle Rio Grande, Upper San Pedro River, and Lower Colorado River was strongly correlated with Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) values from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) sensor on the NASA Terra satellite. The inclusion of maximum daily air temperatures (Ta) measured at the tower sites further improved this relationship. Sixteen-day composite values of EVI and Ta were combined to predict ET across species and tower sites (r2 = 0.74); the regression equation was used to scale ET for 20002004 over large river reaches with Ta from meteorological stations. Measured and estimated ET values for these river segments were moderate when compared to historical, and often indirect, estimates and ranged from 851874 mm yr- 1. ET of individual plant communities ranged more widely. Cottonwood (Populus spp.) and willow (Salix spp.) stands generally had the highest annual ET rates (11001300 mm yr- 1), while mesquite (Prosopis velutina) (4001100 mm yr- 1) and saltcedar (Tamarix ramosissima) (3001300 mm yr- 1) were intermediate, and giant sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii) (500800 mm yr- 1) and arrowweed (Pluchea sericea) (300700 mm yr- 1) were the lowest. ET rates estimated from the flux towers and by remote sensing in this study were much lower than values estimated for riparian water budgets using crop coefficient methods for the Middle Rio Grande and Lower Colorado River.
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