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Skin layer evaporation to account for small precipitation events—An enhancement to the FAO-56 evaporation model

Allen, Richard G.
Agricultural water management 2011 v.99 no.1 pp. 8-18
evaporation rate, models, silt loam soils, soil water, Idaho
The FAO-56 soil water evaporation model is a simple ‘slab’ model that has been found to produce good estimates of evaporation from bare soil over a range of conditions due to its adherence to conservation of mass and energy. The simplicity of the model makes it straightforward to apply and to parameterize. An enhancement is made to the original formulation to accommodate light wetting events that wet the soil ‘skin’ near the surface and evaporate relatively quickly, even when the underlying soil is dry. In effect, the evaporation process, when the soil skin is wetted, reverts temporarily into stage 1 evaporation. The enhancement utilizes the ‘readily evaporable water’ (REW) term of the original model so that no new parameters are required. The extended model performs similar to the original model in the absence of small precipitation events, but increases the evaporation rate when small events occur. The FAO-56 method with the skin evaporation enhancement is shown to compare well against simulations made using the HYDRUS 1D model that bases evaporation on the Richards equation. The enhanced model also closely followed evaporation recorded by weighing lysimeter for a silt loam soil at Kimberly, Idaho, with root mean square difference of 0.39 and 0.69mmd⁻¹ for two wetting/drying sequences. Total cumulative evaporation during the longest and wettest sequence was estimated at 92% of the measured value.