Ground-water discharge by evapotranspiration in a desert environment of southern Nevada, 1987

Water-Resources Investigations Report 94-4124




Evapotranspiration (ET) data were collected at two sites where microclimates are typical of the Mojave Desert in southern Nevada-one site with and one without ground-water contributions to ET--under extremely arid desert conditions. By comparing the rate of evapotranspiration at the two sites, the amount of ground-water ET can be inferred. This method may be useful for quantifying ground-water discharge by ET around basin playas or the summer carbonate-aquifer springs, ET rates are greatest in early spring, but are less than 0.6 millimeter per day (mm/d). As the summer progresses and soil moisture is depleted, ET drops below 0.1 mm/d and vegetation wilts. In areas'with a ground-water contribution, under similar climatic conditions, ET rates increase with increasing solar radiation and plant growth from 1 mm/d in winter to an average of 1.5 to 3.0 mm/d in spring. The highest average is about 5.0 mm/d, in June, July, and August, with fluctuations generally between 3.0 and 7.0 mm/d; the rate then decreases from 3.0 to less than 1.0 mm/d by late autumn. A comparison of monthly ET totals based on average daily rates at the two sites indicates that about 520 millimeters of ground water was lost to ET at Ash Meadows during the 6 months of record, April through September 1987. This is in general agreement with the range of values estimated for areas with native vegetation in the Amargosa Desert where the depth to water was between 0.0 and 1.5 meters. Estimated rates ranged from 320 to 760 millimeters per year.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Ground-water discharge by evapotranspiration in a desert environment of southern Nevada, 1987
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey ; Earth Science Information Center, Books and Open-File Reports Section [distributor],
iv, 20 p. :ill., map ;28 cm.