Date of this Version
Applied Engineering in Agriculture Vol. 39(2): 167-177
Many weather monitoring networks such as the Oklahoma Mesonet provide estimates of reference evapotranspiration (ETref) to facilitate weather-informed irrigation decisions. However, weather stations that collect the required input data to estimate ETref using the widely applied ASCE standardized ETref equation are not typically installed over a reference surface, defined as a large expanse of dense, well-watered, stress-free grass or alfalfa having a specified height, surface resistance, and albedo. The deviation of actual surface conditions in the surrounding environment of the weather stations from the reference condition creates station aridity effects that can lead to overestimation of ETref. Daily hydroclimate datasets for a period of 20 years (2000-2019) were used to evaluate the prevalence and spatiotemporal characteristics of station aridity across the Oklahoma Mesonet. Station aridity was characterized based on mean dew point deviation (MDD = Tmin - Tdew), maximum relative humidity (RHmax), and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI). Results demonstrate that station aridity is prevalent and highly variable in both space and time across the Oklahoma Mesonet, as it increases from southeast to northwest in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Larger average seasonal MDD (up to 13°C), lower RHmax (e.g., 57%), and lower NDVI (e.g., 0.22) were observed during extreme to exceptional drought of 2011 in western Oklahoma, where a majority of the state’s irrigated agriculture (88%) is located. Spatiotemporal patterns of station aridity demonstrate the profound effect of wet and dry periods that influence the utility of ETref estimates to improve agricultural water conservation during high irrigation requirement times in water-scarce irrigated areas.