Articles | Volume 16, issue 8
Research article
27 Aug 2012
Research article |  | 27 Aug 2012

Reconstruction of temporal variations of evapotranspiration using instantaneous estimates at the time of satellite overpass

E. Delogu, G. Boulet, A. Olioso, B. Coudert, J. Chirouze, E. Ceschia, V. Le Dantec, O. Marloie, G. Chehbouni, and J.-P. Lagouarde

Abstract. Evapotranspiration estimates can be derived from remote sensing data and ancillary, mostly meterorological, information. For this purpose, two types of methods are classically used: the first type estimates a potential evapotranspiration rate from vegetation indices, and adjusts this rate according to water availability derived from either a surface temperature index or a first guess obtained from a rough estimate of the water budget, while the second family of methods relies on the link between the surface temperature and the latent heat flux through the surface energy budget. The latter provides an instantaneous estimate at the time of satellite overpass. In order to compute daily evapotranspiration, one needs an extrapolation algorithm. Since no image is acquired during cloudy conditions, these methods can only be applied during clear sky days. In order to derive seasonal evapotranspiration, one needs an interpolation method. Two combined interpolation/extrapolation methods based on the self preservation of evaporative fraction and the stress factor are compared to reconstruct seasonal evapotranspiration from instantaneous measurements acquired in clear sky conditions. Those measurements are taken from instantaneous latent heat flux from 11 datasets in Southern France and Morocco. Results show that both methods have comparable performances with a clear advantage for the evaporative fraction for datasets with several water stress events. Both interpolation algorithms tend to underestimate evapotranspiration due to the energy limiting conditions that prevail during cloudy days. Taking into account the diurnal variations of the evaporative fraction according to an empirical relationship derived from a previous study improved the performance of the extrapolation algorithm and therefore the retrieval of the seasonal evapotranspiration for all but one datasets.