Ecosystem evapotranspiration: challenges in measurements, estimates, and modeling
Evapotranspiration (ET) processes at the leaf to landscape scales in multiple land uses have important controls and feedbacks for local, regional, and global climate and water resource systems. Innovative methods, tools, and technologies for improved understanding and quantification of ET and crop water use are critical for adapting more effective management strategies to cope with increasing demand for freshwater resources under global climate change. This article introduces an ASABE Special Collection of 12 articles on ET monitoring and modeling research for multiple land uses and scales. The collection focuses on recent advances in four critical topical areas: (1) reference ET (REF-ET) method development and applications, including crop management and irrigation scheduling, limitations due to sensor inaccuracies and variability, and sensitivity to climatic drivers (three articles); (2) ET process and pathway characterization, including canopy interception, transpiration, and soil evaporation measured using various state-of-the-art techniques on crop lands and plantation forests, and effects of soil moisture on grassland water balance (three articles); (3) ET simulation within hydrological models (SWAT, MIKE SHE, RZWQM, RZ-SHAW, RegCM-BATS, DRAINMODFOREST, and Thornthwaite water balance) as well as related processes, such as crop growth and ET/PET ratios, for grass, crop, and forest lands (four articles); and (4) geospatial technology applications, such as using remote sensing to estimate ET and its components (soil evaporation and transpiration) for various land uses (two articles). Study sites represent a range of spatial scales and ecohydrological settings, including grasslands in Inner Mongolia dry lands in northern China, semiarid high plains in Texas, corn production regions from Iowa to Colorado, forest plantations on the humid Atlantic Coastal Plain, developed coastal areas on the island of Taiwan, and the continental U.S. Results from these studies will help guide current development and assessment of REF-ET, ET, and monitoring and modeling of their components in multiple scales and ecosystems. The studies also establish a platform for addressing potential inaccuracies in data from weather sensors and algorithms used in remote sensing products for estimating ET and its parameters, including uncertainties in REF-ET estimates, for tall forest vegetation in particular. Furthermore, the studies offer insights into the interactions between climatic variability and change and vegetation through the ET process.