Articles | Volume 16, issue 7
Research article
13 Jul 2012
Research article |  | 13 Jul 2012

Consistency between hydrological model, large aperture scintillometer and remote sensing based evapotranspiration estimates for a heterogeneous catchment

B. Samain, G. W. H. Simons, M. P. Voogt, W. Defloor, N.-J. Bink, and V. R. N. Pauwels

Abstract. The catchment averaged actual evapotranspiration rate is a hydrologic model variable that is difficult to quantify. Evapotranspiration rates – up till present – cannot be continuously observed at the catchment scale.

The objective of this paper is to estimate the evapotranspiration rates (or its energy equivalent, the latent heat fluxes LE) for a heterogeneous catchment of 102.3 km2 in Belgium using three fundamentally different algorithms.

One possible manner to observe this variable could be the continuous measurement of sensible heat fluxes (H) across large distances (in the order of kilometers) using a large aperture scintillometer (LAS), and converting these observations into evapotranspiration rates. Latent heat fluxes are obtained through the energy balance equation using a series of sensible heat fluxes measured with a LAS over a distance of 9.5 km in the catchment, and point measurements of net radiation (Rn) and ground heat flux (G) upscaled to catchment average through the use of TOPLATS, a physically based land surface model.

The resulting LE-values are then compared to results from the remote sensing based surface energy balance algorithm ETLook and the land surface model. Firstly, the performance of ETLook for the energy balance terms has been assessed at the point scale and at the catchment scale. Secondly, consistency between daily evapotranspiration rates from ETLook, TOPLATS and LAS is shown.