Articles | Volume 20, issue 3
Research article
21 Mar 2016
Research article |  | 21 Mar 2016

Creating long-term gridded fields of reference evapotranspiration in Alpine terrain based on a recalibrated Hargreaves method

Klaus Haslinger and Annett Bartsch

Abstract. A new approach for the construction of high-resolution gridded fields of reference evapotranspiration for the Austrian domain on a daily time step is presented. Gridded data of minimum and maximum temperatures are used to estimate reference evapotranspiration based on the formulation of Hargreaves. The calibration constant in the Hargreaves equation is recalibrated to the Penman–Monteith equation in a monthly and station-wise assessment. This ensures, on one hand, eliminated biases of the Hargreaves approach compared to the formulation of Penman–Monteith and, on the other hand, also reduced root mean square errors and relative errors on a daily timescale. The resulting new calibration parameters are interpolated over time to a daily temporal resolution for a standard year of 365 days. The overall novelty of the approach is the use of surface elevation as the only predictor to estimate the recalibrated Hargreaves parameter in space. A third-order polynomial is fitted to the recalibrated parameters against elevation at every station which yields a statistical model for assessing these new parameters in space by using the underlying digital elevation model of the temperature fields. With these newly calibrated parameters for every day of year and every grid point, the Hargreaves method is applied to the temperature fields, yielding reference evapotranspiration for the entire grid and time period from 1961–2013. This approach is opening opportunities to create high-resolution reference evapotranspiration fields based only temperature observations, but being as close as possible to the estimates of the Penman–Monteith approach.

Short summary
Gridded fields of daily max. and min. temperatures for the Austrian domain are used to calculate ET0 based on a re-calibrated Hargreaves method. Newly derived, station-based calibration parameters, with Penman–Monteith ET0 as a reference, show a distinct altitude and seasonal dependence. Theses features are used to interpolate the new calibration values in space and time onto the temperature grids. The ET0 is then calculated based on the entire gridded temperature data starting back in 1961.