The accuracy of a complementary relationship (CR) evapotranspiration (ET) model depends on how to parameterize the relationship between apparent potential ET and actual ET as the land surface changes from wet to dry. Yet, the validity of its inherent symmetric assumption of the original CR framework, i.e., the B value equal to one, is controversial. In this study, we conduct a comparative study between a linear, symmetric version (B = 1) and a nonlinear, asymmetric version (B is not necessarily equal to 1) of the advection-aridity (AA) CR model in a large ephemeral lake, which experiences dramatic changes in surface/atmosphere humidity. The results show that B was typically 1.1 ± 1.4 when ET ≤ ETPT
, where ETPM
are estimated using the Penman (PM) and Priestley–Taylor (PT) equations, respectively; the AA model performed reasonably well in this case. However, the value of B can be negative and deviate from 1 significantly if the inequality ET ≤ ETPT
is violated, which is quite common in humid environments. Because the actual ET can be negatively (B > 0) or positively (B < 0) related to the evaporative demand of the air, the nonlinear AA model generally performs better than the AA model if ET ≤ ETPM
is satisfied. Although B is not significantly correlated with the atmospheric relative humidity (RH), both models, especially the nonlinear AA model, resulted in negative biases when ET > ETPM
, which generally occur at high RH conditions. Both the linear and the nonlinear AA models performed better under higher water level conditions, however, our study highlights the need for higher-order (≥3) polynomial functions when CR models are applied in humid environments.
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