Remotely sensed surface temperature and reflectance in the visible and near infrared wavebands along with ancilliary meteorological data provide the capability of computing three of the four surface energy balance components (i.e., net radiation, soil heat flux, and sensible heat flux) at different spatial and temporal scales. As a result, under nonadvective conditions, this enables the estimation of the remaining term (i.e., the latent heat flux). One of the practical applications with this approach is to produce evapotranspiration (ET) maps for agricultural regions which consist of an array of fields containing different crops at varying stages of growth and soil moisture conditions. Such a situation exists in the semiarid southwest at the University of Arizona Maricopa Agricultural Center, south of Phoenix. For one day (14 June 1987), surface temperature and reflectance measurements from an aircraft 150 m above ground level (agl) were acquired over fields from zero to nearly full cover at four times between 1000 MST and 1130 MST. The diurnal pattern of the surface energy balance was measured over four fields, which included alfalfa at 60% cover, furrowed cotton at 20% and 30% cover, and partially plowed what stubble. Instantaneous and daily values of ET were estimated for a representative area around each flux site with an energy balance model that relies on a reference ET. This reference value was determined with remotely sensed data and several meteorological inputs. The reference ET was adjusted to account for the different surface conditions in the other fields using only remotely sensed variables. A comparison with the flux measurements suggests the model has difficulties with partial canopy conditions, especially related to the estimation of the sensible heat flux. The resulting errors for instantaneous ET were on the order of 100 W m-2 and for daily values of order 2 mm day-1. These findings suggest future research should involve development of methods to account for the variability of meteorological parameters brought about by changes in surface conditions and improvements in the modeling of sensible heat transfer across the surface-atmosphere interface for partial canopy conditions using remote sensing information. ?? 1990.
Additional publication details
Instantaneous and daily values of the surface energy balance over agricultural fields using remote sensing and a reference field in an arid environment