Natural Resources, School of



Ayse Kilic

Date of this Version

Spring 2011


Published in Great Plains Research 21 (Spring 2011), pp. 73-88. Copyright © 2011 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


There are various methods available for estimating magnitude and trends of evapotranspiration. Bowen ratio energy balance system and eddy correlation techniques offer powerful alternatives for measuring land surface evapotranspiration. In spite of the elegance, high accuracy, and theoretical attractions of these techniques for measuring evapotranspiration, their practical use over large areas can be limited due to the number of sites needed and the related expense. Application of evapotranspiration mapping from satellite measurements can overcome the limitations. The objective of this study was to utilize the METRICTM (Mapping Evapotranspiration at High Resolution using Internalized Calibration) model in Great Plains environmental settings to understand water use in managed ecosystems on a regional scale. We investigated spatiotemporal distribution of a fraction of reference evapotranspiration (ETrF) using eight Landsat 5 images during the 2005 and 2006 growing season for path 29, row 32. The ETrF maps generated by METRICTM allowed us to follow the magnitude and trend in ETrF for major land-use classes during the growing season. The ETrF was lower early in the growing season for agricultural crops and gradually increased as the normalized difference vegetation index of crops increased, thus presenting more surface area over which water could transpire toward the midseason. Comparison of predictions with Bowen ratio energy balance system measurements at Clay Center, NE, showed that METRICTM performed well at the field scale for predicting evapotranspiration from a cornfield. If calibrated properly, the model could be a viable tool to estimate water use in managed ecosystems in subhumid climates at a large scale.