High Contribution of Gallery Forests to Local Evaporation in Semi-Arid Burkina Faso

Monday, 15 December 2014
Natalie C Ceperley1, Theophile Mande1, Scott W Tyler2, Nick Van De Giesen3, Andrea Rinaldo4 and Marc B Parlange4, (1)Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland, (2)University of Nevada, Geological Sciences and Engineering, Reno, NV, United States, (3)Delft University of Technology, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft, 5612, Netherlands, (4)EPFL Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland
Management of the hydrologic cycle is critical to the primary livelihood of a large part of semi-arid West Africa’s primary livelihood, rain-fed farming. We use flux measurements from an eddy-covariance station coupled with a dense network of small wireless meteorological stations to examine the relationship between land surface properties (albedo, soil moisture, and roughness) and evapotranspiration in a small (3.5 km2) catchment in Burkina Faso, West Africa. The catchment is a matrix of savanna and agricultural land maintained under various regimes, providing a comparison of multiple land use types of Sudanian Wooded Savanna including a canyon gallery forest, agroforestry parklands, occasionally grazed semi-open savanna, a semi-closed wooded slope, fallow fields, rice paddies, and ephemeral wetlands. By filtering out times when dry air was entrained, we demonstrate the small control of soil moisture and vegetation on the evaporative fraction, which was not initially visible. Additionally we document the high contribution of the gallery forest to the the catchment evaporation, despite its small size. These small meteorological stations could be paired with currently available satellite data to calculate evaporation over a much larger area, even when eddy-covariance equipment is not available. These findings reinforce local cultural beliefs of the importance of gallery forests for climate regulation and may provide tools to key local decision makers, rural farmers.