Articles | Volume 17, issue 10
Research article
15 Oct 2013
Research article |  | 15 Oct 2013

How representative are instantaneous evaporative fraction measurements of daytime fluxes?

J. Peng, M. Borsche, Y. Liu, and A. Loew

Abstract. Sun-synchronous optical and thermal remote sensing is a promising technique to provide instantaneous ET (evapotranspiration) estimates during satellite overpass. The common approach to extrapolate the instantaneous estimates to values for daily or longer periods relies on the assumption that the EF (evaporative fraction, defined as the ratio of latent heat flux to surface available energy) remains nearly constant during daytime. However, there is still no consensus on the validity of the self-preservation of the EF. We use FLUXNET (a global network of eddy covariance stations) measurements to examine this self-preservation, and the conditions under which it can hold. It is found that the instantaneous EF could represent daytime EF under clear sky conditions, especially between 11:00 and 14:00 LT (local time) for all stations. However, the results show that the EF is more variable during cloudy sky conditions, so that an increase in cloud cover results in an increase in the variability of the EF during daytime.