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Summer evapotranspiration in western Siberia: a comparison between eddy covariance and Penman method formulations

Fleischer, Elisa, Bölter, Jana, Klemm, Otto
Hydrological processes 2015 v.29 no.20 pp. 4498-4513
climate, climate change, cold, eddy covariance, environmental factors, equations, evapotranspiration, forests, meteorological data, soil, steppes, surfaces, water stress, Siberia
Evapotranspiration is difficult to quantify because of the many factors and complex processes that influence it. Several empirical methods have been developed over the years to estimate potential evapotranspiration based on easily available parameters. Directly measured data of actual evapotranspiration have been rather sparse in the past and still need to be improved in particular regions like western Siberia. The transition zone between the warm temperate and cold temperate continental climates is very sensitive to climate change, and water stress is an increasingly important issue in these regions with a highly dynamic agricultural activity. So there is a growing need to estimate actual evapotranspiration. Widely usable approximations are needed. In this study, the values of potential evapotranspiration computed with the original version, and eight modifications of the Penman formulation were compared and related to the actual evapotranspiration measured by eddy covariance over a grassland area in western Siberia. The original 1948 and 1963 Penman formulations are best for estimating potential evapotranspiration in the transition zone between the forest steppes and the pre‐taiga. A nearly linear relationship between the potential and actual evapotranspiration was found. A simple modification of the Penman equation (i.e. the multiplication of the result by a factor of 0.47) is suggested for approximating the actual evapotranspiration based on standard meteorological data for the region. The original Penman formulation is most robust and will provide the widest applicability in the future under changing climate and environmental conditions. In this context, it is further recommended not to neglect the ventilation term of the Penman equation, which is often assumed to be negligibly small. A detailed correlation analysis showed that under dry soil conditions, the vegetation largely contributed to the actual evapotranspiration and, in contrast to widely held expectations, that the Penman equation is best adapted to vegetated surfaces. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.