Evaluation of the effect of radiation on evapotranspiration estimates and drought indices


Evaluation of the effect of radiation on evapotranspiration estimates and drought indices The severity of drought can be inferred from water balance, of which evapotranspiration is a component. The evapotranspiration estimates are often based on the FAO 56 methodology with the net radiation as the main input. Usually, however, the latter is not directly measured. This study investigates to which extent can the direct solar radiation and the long-wave net radiation measurements be replaced by calculation according to FAO 56 with constant or locally optimised radiation coefficients or, for the long-wave net radiation, the coefficients according to Penman (1948). The problem is demonstrated on data from the Solar and Ozone Observatory in Hradec Králové for 2011 and 2012. On average, the estimates of solar radiation are satisfactory even with the standard coefficients and can be improved by local optimisation of the coefficients. The estimates for particular days may considerably differ from reality. The long-wave net radiation estimate according to FAO 56 is, on average, by about 30 % lower than the measured long-wave net radiation or an estimate thereof based on locally optimised or Penman's coefficients, with the average differences between any two of the last three methods much smaller (less than 9 %). The inaccuracy of estimates for particular days is considerable, too. The average reference crop evapotranspiration according to FAO 56 with standard coefficients is therefore considerably higher (by about 15 %) than analogous evapotranspiration obtained from the measured radiation or according to FAO 56 with optimised or Penman's radiation coefficients. The cause is that grass in the observatory was not irrigated. It therefore occasionally suffered from water stress and got overheated. The use of FAO 56 with the radiation inputs measured or calculated using other than the standard radiation coefficients may underestimate the evapotranspiration and the need for irrigation

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