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Ruhoff, AL; Paz, AR; Collischonn, W; Aragao, LEOC; Rocha, HR; Malhi, YS (2012). A MODIS-Based Energy Balance to Estimate Evapotranspiration for Clear-Sky Days in Brazilian Tropical Savannas. REMOTE SENSING, 4(3), 703-725.

Evapotranspiration (ET) plays an important role in global climate dynamics and in primary production of terrestrial ecosystems; it represents the mass and energy transfer from the land to atmosphere. Limitations to measuring ET at large scales using ground-based methods have motivated the development of satellite remote sensing techniques. The purpose of this work is to evaluate the accuracy of the SEBAL algorithm for estimating surface turbulent heat fluxes at regional scale, using 28 images from MODIS. SEBAL estimates are compared with eddy-covariance (EC) measurements and results from the hydrological model MGB-IPH. SEBAL instantaneous estimates of latent heat flux (LE) yielded r(2) = 0.64 and r(2) = 0.62 over sugarcane croplands and savannas when compared against in situ EC estimates. At the same sites, daily aggregated estimates of LE were r(2) = 0.76 and r(2) = 0.66, respectively. Energy balance closure showed that turbulent fluxes over sugarcane croplands were underestimated by 7% and 9% over savannas. Average daily ET from SEBAL is in close agreement with estimates from the hydrological model for an overlay of 38,100 km(2) (r(2) = 0.88). Inputs to which the algorithm is most sensitive are vegetation index (NDVI), gradient of temperature (dT) to compute sensible heat flux (H) and net radiation (Re). It was verified that SEBAL has a tendency to overestimate results both at local and regional scales probably because of low sensitivity to soil moisture and water stress. Nevertheless the results confirm the potential of the SEBAL algorithm, when used with MODIS images for estimating instantaneous LE and daily ET from large areas.



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