Surface energy balance estimates at local and regional scales using optical remote sensing from an aircraft platform and atmospheric data collected over semiarid rangelands

Water Resources Research
By: , and 

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Abstract

Remotely sensed data in the visible, near-infrared, and thermal-infrared wave bands were collected from a low-flying aircraft during the Monsoon '90 field experiment. Monsoon '90 was a multidisciplinary experiment conducted in a semiarid watershed. It had as one of its objectives the quantification of hydrometeorological fluxes during the “monsoon” or wet season. The remote sensing observations along with micrometeprological and atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) data were used to compute the surface energy balance over a range of spatial scales. The procedure involved averaging multiple pixels along transects flown over the meteorological and flux (METFLUX) stations. Average values of the spectral reflectance and thermal-infrared temperatures were computed for pixels of order 10−1 to 101 km in length and were used with atmospheric data for evaluating net radiation (Rn), soil heat flux (G), and sensible (H) and latent (LE) heat fluxes at these same length scales. The model employs a single-layer resistance approach for estimating H that requires wind speed and air temperature in the ABL and a remotely sensed surface temperature. The values of Rn and G are estimated from remote sensing information together with near-surface observations of air temperature, relative humidity, and solar radiation. Finally, LE is solved as the residual term in the surface energy balance equation. Model calculations were compared to measurements from the METFLUX network for three days having different environmental conditions. Average percent differences for the three days between model and the METFLUX estimates of the local fluxes were about 5% for Rn, 20% for Gand H, and 15% for LE. Larger differences occurred during partly cloudy conditions because of errors in interpreting the remote sensing data and the higher spatial and temporal variation in the energy fluxes. Minor variations in modeled energy fluxes were observed when the pixel size representing the remote sensing inputs changed from 0.2 to 2 km. Regional scale estimates of the surface energy balance using bulk ABL properties for the model parameters and input variables and the 10-km pixel data differed from the METFLUX network averages by about 4% for Rn, 10% for G and H, and 15% for LE. Model sensitivity in calculating the turbulent fluxes H and LE to possible variations in key model parameters (i.e., the roughness lengths for heat and momentum) was found to be fairly significant. Therefore the reliability of the methods for estimating key model parameters and potential errors needs further testing over different ecosystems and environmental conditions.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Surface energy balance estimates at local and regional scales using optical remote sensing from an aircraft platform and atmospheric data collected over semiarid rangelands
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/93WR03038
Volume 30
Issue 5
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 19 p.
First page 1241
Last page 1259