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Water 2017, 9(9), 614; https://doi.org/10.3390/w9090614

A Comparative Study of GRACE with Continental Evapotranspiration Estimates in Australian Semi-Arid and Arid Basins: Sensitivity to Climate Variability and Extremes

1
Centre for Tropical Water Research & Aquatic Ecosystem Research (TropWATER), James Cook University, 4870 Cairns, Australia
2
State Key Laboratory of Hydro-Science and Engineering, Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
3
Research Institute for the Development, UMR G-EAU, 34000 Montpellier, France
4
Hydrogeology Laboratory, UMR EMMAH, University of Avignon, 84000 Avignon, France
5
Géosciences Environnement Toulouse (GET)—UMR5563, CNRS, IRD, Université de Toulouse UPS, OMP-GRGS, 14 Avenue E. Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
6
Laboratoire d’Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie Spatiales (LEGOS)—UMR5566, CNES, CNRS, IRD, Université de Toulouse UPS, OMP-GRGS, 14 Avenue E. Belin, 31400 Toulouse, France
7
UMR EMMAH, INRA—University of Avignon, 84000 Avignon, France
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 27 January 2017 / Revised: 2 May 2017 / Accepted: 30 July 2017 / Published: 5 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Use of Remote Sensing in Hydrology)
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Abstract

This study examines the dynamics and robustness of large-scale evapotranspiration products in water-limited environments. Four types of ET products are tested against rainfall in two large semi-arid to arid Australian basins from 2003 to 2010: two energy balance ET methods which are forced by optical satellite retrievals from MODIS; a newly developed land surface model (AWRA); and one approach based on observations from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and rainfall data. The two basins are quasi (Murray-Darling Basin: 1.06 million km2) and completely (Lake Eyre Basin: 1.14 million km2) endorheic. During the study period, two extreme climatic events—the Millennium drought and the strongest La Niña event—were recorded in the basins and are used in our assessment. The two remotely-sensed ET products constrained by the energy balance tended to overestimate ET flux over water-stressed regions. They had low sensitivity to climatic extremes and poor capability to close the water balance. However, these two remotely-sensed and energy balance products demonstrated their superiority in capturing spatial features including over small-scale and complicated landscapes. AWRA and GRACE formulated in the water balance framework were more sensitive to rainfall variability and yielded more realistic ET estimates during climate extremes. GRACE demonstrated its ability to account for seasonal and inter-annual change in water storage for ET evaluation. View Full-Text
Keywords: evapotranspiration; GRACE; land surface model; water balance; energy balance; Australia evapotranspiration; GRACE; land surface model; water balance; energy balance; Australia
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Shen, H.; Leblanc, M.; Frappart, F.; Seoane, L.; O’Grady, D.; Olioso, A.; Tweed, S. A Comparative Study of GRACE with Continental Evapotranspiration Estimates in Australian Semi-Arid and Arid Basins: Sensitivity to Climate Variability and Extremes. Water 2017, 9, 614.

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