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ABSTRACT:

A study was conducted to evaluate the suitability of three micrometeorological methods for estimating evapotranspiration from selected areas of native vegetation in west-central Florida and to estimate annual evapotranspiration from areas having a specific vegetation type. Evapotranspiration was estimated using the methods of energy-balance Bowen ratio (EBBR) and eddy correlation. Potential evapotranspiration was computed using the Penman equation. Field measurements were made intermittently from February 1988 through September 1990.The EBBR method was used to estimate evapotranspiration from unforested and forested sites. A mean-gradient Bowen ratio system was used to measure and average vertical air temperature and vapor-pressure gradients, and the Bowen ratio was computed using the mean air temperature and vapor-pressure gradients. The Bowen ratio estimated in this manner was then used to compute evapotranspiration by the EBBR method. Computations that were based on objective review criteria indicated that the Bowen ratio that was computed using measurements that were made using the mean-gradient Bowen ratio system was not always realistic. During a period of extended operation at a dry prairie site, 9 percent of measured available energy during the daytime occurred when the Bowen ratio obtained using the mean-gradient Bowen ratio system was unrealistic. During 5 out of 14 days of continuous operation at a marsh site, more than 30 percent of measured available energy during the daytime occurred when the Bowen ratio obtained using the mean-gradient Bowen ratio system was unrealistic. One of the primary causes of unrealistic Bowen ratios at the unforested sites was condensation of moisture within the tubing of the mean-gradient Bowen ratio system. Measurements made using the mean-gradient Bowen ratio system at a forested pine flatwood site indicated that vapor-pressure gradients were too weak to be resolved by the system. As a result, the Bowen ratio computed for the forested sites was unreliable when it was obtained using the mean-gradient Bowen ratio system.

Direct estimates of sensible and latent heat flux that were computed from eddy correlation measurements were generally insufficient to account for measured available energy at all sites. Analysis of eddy correlation and energy-balance data indicated that the sum of sensible and latent heat fluxes accounted for 68 percent of available energy at dry prairie and marsh sites, 74 percent of available energy at a pine flatwood site, and 45 percent of available energy at a cypress swamp site. Because specific causes of the energy-balance discrepancies could not be quantified, corrections to the direct eddy correlation flux estimates could not be made, and eddy correlation data were combined with other energy-balance data to yield two alternative evapotranspiration estimates. The first alternative evapotranspiration estimate was computed by combining sensible heat flux obtained from eddy correlation with measurements of available energy to compute latent heat flux as the residual of the equation for the surface energy balance. The second alternative evapotranspiration estimate was computed by using direct sensible and latent heat flux estimates that were obtained from eddy correlation measurements to compute the Bowen ratio. The Bowen ratio obtained from eddy correlation measurements was then combined with measurements of available energy to compute evapotranspiration by the EBBR method. Of the three alternative evapotranspiration estimates that were obtained from eddy correlation measurements, the estimate that was computed using the EBBR method, with the Bowen ratio computed from eddy correlation measurements, agreed most strongly with the corresponding evapotranspiration estimate that was computed using the EBBR method with the Bowen ratio obtained from the mean-gradient Bowen ratio system. It is probable that actual evapo-transpiration was within a range defined by the standard eddy correlation computation, which consistently indicated the smallest evapotranspiration, and the energy-balance residual computation, which consistently indicated the largest evapotranspiration.

Daily potential evapotranspiration, as computed by the Penman method, and daily evapotranspiration, as computed by the EBBR method, did not seem to correlate with each other at a dry prairie site during late spring and summer; however, the two were correlated with each other at a marsh site during late spring and summer. Evapotranspiration was approximately 57 percent of potential evapotranspiration at the marsh site. The correlation between evapotranspiration and potential evapotranspiration at the marsh site, and the fact that evapotranspiration approached potential evapotranspiration, indicated that the Penman method can be useful for estimating evapotranspiration from marshes in west-central Florida.

Annual evapotranspiration estimates were developed for each vegetation type by pooling EBBR and eddy correlation measurements among sites and among the 3 years during which field measurements were made. Three different estimates, which correspond to the three eddy correlation computation methods, were made for each vegetation type. The centric estimates, which were calculated by using the EBBR method with the Bowen ratio obtained from either a mean-gradient system or from eddy correlation measurements, were 1,010 millimeters per year for the dry prairie type, 990 millimeters per year for the marsh vegetation type, 1,060 millimeters per year for the pine flatwood type, and 970 millimeters per year for the cypress swamp type.

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