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Comparison of the Bowen ratio-energy balance and stability-corrected aerodynamic methods for measurement of evapotranspiration

Theoretical and applied climatology / v.48 no.2/3. 1993, pp.167-178

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Abstract : Summary The Bowen ratio-energy balance (BREB) and the stability-corrected aerodynamic method were used to estimate turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat at an irrigated alfalfa site in a semi-arid valley in northern Utah, U.S.A., during August and September of 1991. Despite inclusion of a generalized stability factor, the aerodynamic method underestimated the daytime (sunrise-sunset) sensible and latent heat fluxes by approximately 30% in comparison with the BREB method. The sum of the aerodynamic estimates of sensible and latent heat seldom balanced the energy avaiable from net radiation and change in storage. Wind speed was low during the experiment (averaging 1.6 m s minus;1 ), and so a second analysis was run for data from daytime, non-rainy, turbulent conditions (wind gt; 1.5 m s minus;1 ). This showed that sensible and latent heat were still underestimated by approximately 30% in comparison with the BREB approach. This suggests that underestimation of sensible and latent heat fluxes by the aerodynamic method was not related to the wind speed conditions during the experiment. These results show that the stability-corrected aerodynamic model did not agree with the Bowen ratio method in this experiment. It appears unlikely that the discrepancies resulted from measurement errors. Perhaps the theoretical foundation of the similarity parameters (stability functions) in the aerodynamic model are not sufficiently generalized. The discrepancies found here confirm the necessity of calibration checks on the validity of aerodynamic estimates of the turbulent fluxes.

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