PART A: Ground-water evapotranspiration data from five sites in Nevada and seven sites in Owens Valley, California, were used to develop equations for estimating ground-water evapotranspiration as a function of phreatophyte plant cover or as a function of the depth to ground water. Equations are given for estimating mean daily seasonal and annual ground-water evapotranspiration. The equations that estimate ground-water evapotranspiration as a function of plant cover can be used to estimate regional-scale ground-water evapotranspiration using vegetation indices derived from satellite data for areas where the depth to ground water is poorly known. Equations that estimate ground-water evapotranspiration as a function of the depth to ground water can be used where the depth to ground water is known, but for which information on plant cover is lacking.
PART B: Previous ground-water studies estimated groundwater evapotranspiration by phreatophytes and bare soil in Nevada on the basis of results of field studies published in 1912 and 1932. More recent studies of evapotranspiration by rangeland phreatophytes, using micrometeorological methods as discussed in Chapter A of this report, provide new data on which to base estimates of ground-water evapotranspiration. An approach correlating ground-water evapotranspiration with plant cover is used in conjunction with a modified soil-adjusted vegetation index derived from Landsat data to develop a method for estimating the magnitude and distribution of ground-water evapotranspiration at a regional scale. Large areas of phreatophytes near Duckwater and Lockes in Railroad Valley are believed to subsist on ground water discharged from nearby regional springs. Ground-water evapotranspiration by the Duckwater phreatophytes of about 11,500 acre-feet estimated by the method described in this report compares well with measured discharge of about 13,500 acre-feet from the springs near Duckwater. Measured discharge from springs near Lockes was about 2,400 acre-feet; estimated ground-water evapotranspiration using the proposed method was about 2,450 acre-feet.
PART C: Previous estimates of ground-water budgets in Nevada were based on methods and data that now are more than 60 years old. Newer methods, data, and technologies were used in the present study to estimate ground-water recharge from precipitation and ground-water discharge by evapotranspiration by phreatophytes for 16 contiguous valleys in eastern Nevada. Annual ground-water recharge to these valleys was estimated to be about 855,000 acre-feet and annual ground-water evapotranspiration was estimated to be about 790,000 acrefeet; both are a little more than two times greater than previous estimates. The imbalance of recharge over evapotranspiration represents recharge that either (1) leaves the area as interbasin flow or (2) is derived from precipitation that falls on terrain within the topographic boundary of the study area but contributes to discharge from hydrologic systems that lie outside these topographic limits.
A vegetation index derived from Landsat-satellite data was used to estimate phreatophyte plant cover on the floors of the 16 valleys. The estimated phreatophyte plant cover then was used to estimate annual ground-water evapotranspiration. Detailed estimates of summer, winter, and annual ground-water evapotranspiration for areas with different ranges of phreatophyte plant cover were prepared for each valley. The estimated ground-water discharge from 15 valleys, combined with independent estimates of interbasin ground-water flow into or from a valley, were used to calculate the percentage of recharge derived from precipitation within the topographic boundary of each valley. These percentages then were used to estimate ground-water recharge from precipitation within each valley.
Ground-water budgets for all 16 valleys were based on the estimated recharge from precipitation and estimated evapotranspiration. Any imba
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USGS Numbered Series
Regional ground-water evapotranspiration and ground-water budgets, Great Basin, Nevada
1 v. (various pagings) : ill. (some col.), maps (some col.) ; 28 cm. + 1 computer optical disc (4 3/4 in.) in pocket + 4 maps on 4 folded leaves in 2 pockets. Related publications are: OFR 99-242 and FS 073-00