US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Ecohydrol. 7, 378–390 (2014)


This article is a U.S. government work, and is not subject to copyright in the United States.


The use of diurnal water-table fluctuation methods to calculate evapotranspiration (ET) and groundwater flow is of increasing interest in ecohydrological studies. Most studies of this type, however, have been located in riparian wetlands of semi-arid regions where groundwater levels are consistently below topographic surface elevations and precipitation events are infrequent. Current methodologies preclude application to a wider variety of wetland systems. In this study, we extended a method for estimating sub-daily ET and groundwater flow rates from water-level fluctuations to fit highly dynamic, non-riparian wetland scenarios. Modifications included (1) varying the specific yield to account for periodic flooded conditions and (2) relating empirically derived ET to estimated potential ET for days when precipitation events masked the diurnal signal. To demonstrate the utility of this method, we estimated ET and groundwater fluxes over two growing seasons (2006–2007) in 15 wetlands within a ridge-and-swale wetland complex of the Laurentian Great Lakes under flooded and non-flooded conditions.Mean daily ET rates for the sites ranged from 4.0mmd-1 to 6.6mmd-1. Shallow groundwater discharge rates resulting from evaporative demand ranged from2.5mmd-1 to 4.3mmd-1. This study helps to expand our understanding of the evapotranspirative demand of plants under various hydrologic and climate conditions.