Bowen ratio meteorological stations have been deployed to measure rates of evaporation from groundwater discharge playas and from an adjacent vegetated bench in the Estancia Basin, in central New Mexico. The playas are remnants of late Pleistocene pluvial Lake Estancia and are discharge areas for groundwater originating as precipitation in the adjacent Manzano Mts. They also accumulate water during local precipitation events. Evaporation is calculated from measured values of net radiation, soil heat flux, atmospheric temperature, and relative humidity. Evaporation rates are strongly dependent on the presence or absence of standing water in the playas, with rates increasing more than 600% after individual rainstorms. Evaporation at site E-12, in the southeastern part of the playa Complex, measured 74 cm over a yearlong period from mid-1997 through mid-1998. This value compares favorably to earlier estimates from northern Estancia playas, but is nearly three times greater than evaporation at a similar playa in western Utah. Differences in geographical position, salt crust composition, and physical properties may explain some of the difference in evaporation rates in these two geographic regions.
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Evaporation from groundwater discharge playas, Estancia Basin, central New Mexico