Date of this Version
Agricultural Water Management 98 (2011) 899–920; doi:10.1016/j.agwat.2010.12.015
More and more evapotranspiration models, evapotranspiration crop coefficients and associated measurements of evapotranspiration (ET) are being reported in the literature and used to develop, calibrate and test important ET process models. ET data are derived from a range of measurement systems including lysimeters, eddy covariance, Bowen ratio, water balance (gravimetric, neutron meter, other soil water sensing), sap flow, scintillometry and even satellite-based remote sensing and direct modeling. All of these measurement techniques require substantial experimental care and are prone to substantial biases in reported results. Reporting of data containing measurement biases causes substantial confusion and impedance to the advancement of ET models and in the establishment of irrigation water requirements, and translates into substantial economic losses caused by misinformed water management.
Basic principles of ET measuring systems are reviewed and causes of common error and biases endemic to systems are discussed. Recommendations are given for reducing error in ET retrievals. Upper limits on ET measurements and derived crop coefficients are proposed to serve as guidelines. The descriptions of errors common to measurement systems are intended to help practitioners collect better data as well as to assist reviewers of manuscripts and users of data and derived products in assessing quality, integrity, validity and representativeness of reported information. This paper is the first part of a two-part series, where the second part describes recommendations for documentation to be associated with published ET data.