Use of ground-based remotely sensed data for surface energy balance evaluation of a semiarid rangeland

Water Resources Research
By: , and 



An interdisciplinary field experiment was conducted to study the water and energy balance of a semiarid rangeland watershed in southeast Arizona during the summer of 1990. Two subwatersheds, one grass dominated and the other shrub dominated, were selected for intensive study with ground-based remote sensing systems and hydrometeorological instrumentation. Surface energy balance was evaluated at both sites using direct and indirect measurements of the turbulent fluxes (eddy correlation, variance, and Bowen ratio methods) and using an aerodynamic approach based on remote measurements of surface reflectance and temperature and conventional meteorological information. Estimates of net radiant flux density (Rn), derived from measurements of air temperature, incoming solar radiation, and surface temperature and radiance compared well with values measured using a net radiometer (mean absolute difference (MAD) ≃ 50 W/m2 over a range from 115 to 670 W/m2). Soil heat flux density (G) was estimated using a relation between G/Rn and a spectral vegetation index computed from the red and near-infrared surface reflectance. These G estimates compared well with conventional measurements of G using buried soil heat flux plates (MAD ≃ 20 W/m2 over a range from −13 to 213 W/m2). In order to account for the effects of sparse vegetation, semiempirical adjustments to the single-layer bulk aerodynamic resistance approach were required for evaluation of sensible heat flux density (H). This yielded differences between measurements and remote estimates of H of approximately 33 W/m2 over a range from 13 to 303 W/m2. The resulting estimates of latent heat flux density, LE, were of the same magnitude and trend as measured values; however, a significant scatter was still observed: MAD ≃ 40 W/m2 over a range from 0 to 340 W/m2. Because LE was solved as a residual, there was a cumulative effect of errors associated with remote estimates of Rn, G, and H.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Use of ground-based remotely sensed data for surface energy balance evaluation of a semiarid rangeland
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/93WR03064
Volume 30
Issue 5
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 11 p.
First page 1339
Last page 1349