Cammalleri, C; Ciraolo, G; La Loggia, G; Maltese, A (2012). Daily evapotranspiration assessment by means of residual surface energy balance modeling: A critical analysis under a wide range of water availability. JOURNAL OF HYDROLOGY, 452, 119-129.
An operational use of the actual evapotranspiration assessed by remote sensing approaches requires the integration of instantaneous fluxes to daily values. This is commonly achieved under the hypotheses of daytime self-preservation of evaporative fraction and negligible daily ground heat flux. The aim of this study is to evaluate the effect of these assumptions on estimate daily evapotranspiration over a full phenological cycle, including phases characterized by significant changes both in net radiation and vegetation cover. To assess the reliability of these hypotheses, the observations made by a flux tower, installed within a homogeneous field of cereal located in the valley part of the Imera Meridionale basin, were analyzed. Additionally, the widely-known SEBAL (Surface Energy Balance Algorithm for Land) model was applied on the same study area by means of four MODIS (MODerate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) images selected across a three-rainfall events period in March-April 2007 with the aim to analyze the consistency of its estimates in an operational study case under different conditions of water availability. The analysis of in situ data highlights errors on 24-h evapotranspiration characterized by an average value of 20% due to daily soil heat flux neglecting; whereas, the hypothesis of evaporative fraction self-preservation causes an average error equal to -16%. Moreover, the analysis of the observations suggests that a compensation effect of the errors related to each hypothesis occurs in most cases (56%), and this makes suitable the approach for practical daily integration purposes. The application of the SEBAL model at basin scale shows a good capability to detect the increase of the actual 24-h evapotranspiration under the tested hypotheses, also in the case of instantaneous evaporative fraction and daily net radiation not derived form in situ observations. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.