Evapotranspiration Controls Imposed by Soil Moisture: A Spatial Analysis across the United States

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Angela Jean Rigden, Samuel E Tuttle and Guido Salvucci, Boston University, Earth and Environment, Boston, MA, United States
We spatially analyze the control over evapotranspiration (ET) imposed by soil moisture across the United States using daily estimates of satellite-derived soil moisture and data-driven ET over a nine-year period (June 2002-June 2011) at 305 locations. The soil moisture data are developed using 0.25-degree resolution satellite observations from the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer for the Earth Observing System (AMSR-E), where the 9-year time series for each 0.25-degree pixel was selected from three potential algorithms (VUA-NASA, U. Montana, & NASA) based on the maximum mutual information between soil moisture and precipitation (Tuttle & Salvucci (2014), Remote Sens Environ, 114: 207-222). The ET data are developed independent of soil moisture using an emergent relationship between the diurnal cycle of the relative humidity profile and ET. The emergent relation is that the vertical variance of the relative humidity profile is less than what would occur for increased or decreased ET rates, suggesting that land-atmosphere feedback processes minimize this variance (Salvucci and Gentine (2013), PNAS, 110(16): 6287–6291). The key advantage of using this approach to estimate ET is that no measurements of surface limiting factors (soil moisture, leaf area, canopy conductance) are required; instead, ET is estimated from meteorological data measured at 305 common weather stations that are approximately uniformly distributed across the United States. The combination of these two independent datasets allows for a unique spatial analysis of the control on ET imposed by the availability of soil moisture. We fit evaporation efficiency curves across the United States at each of the 305 sites during the summertime (May-June-July-August-September). Spatial patterns are visualized by mapping optimal curve fitting coefficients across the Unites States. An analysis of efficiency curves and their spatial patterns will be presented.