Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2006NM63G

Validation, Calibration, and Improvement of Remote Sensing ET Algorithms in Mountainous Regions

Institute: New Mexico
USGS Grant Number:
Year Established: 2006 Start Date: 2006-09-01 End Date: 2009-08-31
Total Federal Funds: $74,795 Total Non-Federal Funds: $74,795

Principal Investigators: Jan Hendrickx, Jan Kleissl

Abstract: Accounting of key reservoirs and fluxes associated with the global water cycle, including their spatial and temporal variability, are crucial goals of water resource managers. Advancements in satellite optical remote sensing have resulted in the development of several operational remote sensing evapotranspiration (ET) algorithms. While these algorithms typically give accurate ET predictions over flat terrain, significant difficulties have been encountered in mountainous regions which are characterized by heterogeneous soil and topography, and high elevation changes. However, mountain runoff represents more than 90% of the total runoff in the semi-arid basins of the Rio Grande, Oranje, Colorado, and Rio Negro rivers. Thus improving ET estimates in the mountains is crucial for determining the regional water balance in the south-western U.S. and in many mountainous regions worldwide. Most remote sensing algorithms obtain ET as the residual of the energy balance after measuring and/or modeling net radiation, ground heat flux, and sensible heat flux H. Among these fluxes, H is the most complex to estimate and its value is associated with the greatest uncertainty. We will use novel measurement techniques, such as scintillometers, together with spatially dense meteorological measurements and archived ETA numerical weather model data to measure H and determine how it is related to temperature lapse rate, wind speed, water vapor deficit, and boundary layer height. Two protected sites with idealized topographical shape will be considered in the field study: the Magdalena Ridge and the Valles Caldera National Park in New Mexico. First, the measured H will be used to validate estimates derived from the Surface Energy Balance over Land (SEBAL) algorithm applied on data from synchronous ASTER and MODIS satellite overpasses. Second, techniques for calibration of the SEBAL algorithm in near-real time using surface measurements of H will be developed. Third, parameterizations in the SEBAL algorithm for mountain lapse rates, wind speeds, and surface roughnesses will be critically reviewed and improved by considering meteorological measurements and archived numerical weather model data. Through this work we will make a lasting contribution to ET estimation from SEBAL and other remote sensing algorithms for current and future satellite missions.