Evapotranspiration (ET), a critical process in global climate change, is very difficult to estimate at regional and basin scales. In this study, we evaluated five ET products: the Global Land Surface Evaporation with the Amsterdam Methodology (GLEAM, the EartH2Observe ensemble (E2O)), the Global Land Data Assimilation System with Noah Land Surface Model-2 (GLDAS), a global ET product at 8 km resolution from Zhang (ZHANG) and a supplemental land surface product of the Modern-ERA Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA_land), using the water balance method in the Yellow River Basin, China, including twelve catchments, during the period of 1982–2000. The results showed that these ET products have obvious different performances, in terms of either their magnitude or temporal variations. From the viewpoint of multiple-year averages, the MERRA_land product shows a fairly similar magnitude to the ETw
derived from the water balance method, while the E2O product shows significant underestimations. The GLEAM product shows the highest correlation coefficient. From the viewpoint of interannual variations, the ZHANG product performs best in terms of magnitude, while the E2O still shows significant underestimations. However, the E2O product best describes the interannual variations among the five ET products. Further study has indicated that the discrepancies between the ET products in the Yellow River Basin are mainly due to the quality of precipitation forcing data. In addition, most ET products seem to not be sensitive to the downward shortwave radiation.
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