Burchard-Levine, V; Nieto, H; Riano, D; Migliavacca, M; El-Madany, TS; Perez-Priego, O; Carrara, A; Martin, MP (2020). Seasonal Adaptation of the Thermal-Based Two-Source Energy Balance Model for Estimating Evapotranspiration in a Semiarid Tree-Grass Ecosystem. REMOTE SENSING, 12(6), 904.

The thermal-based two-source energy balance (TSEB) model has accurately simulated energy fluxes in a wide range of landscapes with both remote and proximal sensing data. However, tree-grass ecosystems (TGE) have notably complex heterogeneous vegetation mixtures and dynamic phenological characteristics presenting clear challenges to earth observation and modeling methods. Particularly, the TSEB modeling structure assumes a single vegetation source, making it difficult to represent the multiple vegetation layers present in TGEs (i.e., trees and grasses) which have different phenological and structural characteristics. This study evaluates the implementation of TSEB in a TGE located in central Spain and proposes a new strategy to consider the spatial and temporal complexities observed. This was based on sensitivity analyses (SA) conducted on both primary remote sensing inputs (local SA) and model parameters (global SA). The model was subsequently modified considering phenological dynamics in semi-arid TGEs and assuming a dominant vegetation structure and cover (i.e., either grassland or broadleaved trees) for different seasons (TSEB-2S). The adaptation was compared against the default model and evaluated against eddy covariance (EC) flux measurements and lysimeters over the experimental site. TSEB-2S vastly improved over the default TSEB performance decreasing the mean bias and root-mean-square-deviation (RMSD) of latent heat (LE) from 40 and 82 W m(-2) to -4 and 59 W m(-2), respectively during 2015. TSEB-2S was further validated for two other EC towers and for different years (2015, 2016 and 2017) obtaining similar error statistics with RMSD of LE ranging between 57 and 63 W m(-2). The results presented here demonstrate a relatively simple strategy to improve water and energy flux monitoring over a complex and vulnerable landscape, which are often poorly represented through remote sensing models.