There is a strong need for long term observations of land surface fluxes, especially the latent heat flux (λE), or actual evapotranspiration (ETa), a key component of both the surface energy balance and the hydrological cycle. The eddy covariance (EC) method is widely used to provide measurements of land surface fluxes. However, missing data are inherent to EC measurements and several gap-filling methods have been proposed. Nevertheless, observing ETa by EC and testing gap-filling methods in hilly watersheds received little attention. This study aimed at obtaining continuous ETa time series from EC measurements collected within a small hilly watershed, which implied adapting gap-filling techniques to these particular conditions. The experiment took place within the agricultural watershed Kamech (Northeast Tunisia) which belongs to the OMERE environmental observatory. A 9.6-m-high EC flux tower was installed in the center of the 2.45 km2 area watershed. Sensible and latent heat fluxes data collected from 2010 to 2013 were quality controlled. The software REddyProc was used to gap-fill the fluxes at hourly timescale. To account for the combined effects of wind direction and topography, REddyProc was applied after separating the two dominant wind directions, which notably improved the estimated fluxes. Aggregating the hourly λE estimates at daily and monthly timescales allowed analyzing the temporal variability of ETa over the seasons and between years.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited