, Volume 19, Issue 3-4, pp 251-268

A Landsat-based energy balance and evapotranspiration model in Western US water rights regulation and planning

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Abstract

The quantification of evapotranspiration (ET) from irrigated projects is important for water rights management, water resources planning and water regulation. Traditionally, ET has been estimated by multiplying a weather-based reference ET by crop coefficients (K c) determined according to the crop type and the crop growth stage. However, there is typically question regarding whether crops grown compare with the conditions represented by the K c values, especially in water short areas. In addition, it is difficult to estimate the correct crop growth stage dates for large populations of crops and fields.

METRIC (Mapping Evapotranspiration at high Resolution and with Internalized Calibration) is an image-processing model for calculating ET as a residual of the surface energy balance. METRIC is a variant of SEBAL, an energy balance process developed in the Netherlands by Bastiaanssen and was extended to provide tighter integration with ground-based reference ET. METRIC was applied with Landsat images in southern Idaho to predict monthly and seasonal ET for water rights accounting and for operation of ground water models. ET “maps” (i.e., images) provide the means to quantify, in terms of both the amount and spatial distribution, the ET on a field by field basis.

The ET maps have been used in Idaho to quantify net ground-water pumpage in areas where water extraction from underground is not measured and to estimate recharge from surface-irrigated lands. Application and testing of METRIC indicates substantial promise as an efficient, accurate, and relatively inexpensive procedure to predict the actual evaporation fluxes from irrigated lands throughout a growing season.