In Owens Valley, evapotranspiration (ET) is one of the largest components of outflow in the hydrologic budget and the least understood. ET estimates for December 1983 through October 1985 were made for seven representative locations selected on the basis of geohydrology and the characteristics of phreatophytic alkaline scrub and meadow communities. The Bowen-ratio, eddy-correlation, and Penman-combination methods were used to estimate ET. The results of the analyses appear satisfactory when compared with other estimates of ET. Results by the eddy-correlation method are for a direct and a residual latent-heat flux that is based on sensible-heat flux and energy-budget measurements. Penman-combination potential-ET estimates were determined to be unusable because they overestimated actual ET. Modification of the psychrometer constant of this method to account for differences between heat-diffusion resistance and vapor-diffusion resistance permitted actual ET to be estimated.
The methods described in this report may be used for studies in similar semiarid and arid rangeland areas in the Western United States. Meteorological data for three field sites are included in the appendix of this report. Simple linear regression analysis indicates that ET estimates are correlated to air temperature, vapor-density deficit, and net radiation. Estimates of annual ET range from 301 millimeters at a low-density scrub site to 1,137 millimeters at a high-density meadow site. The monthly percentage of annual ET was determined to be similar for all sites studied.