A calibration-free formulation of the complementary relationship of evaporation for continental-scale hydrology

Jozsef Szilagyi, Richard Crago, Russell Qualls

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32 Citations (Scopus)


An important scaling consideration is introduced into the formulation of the complementary relationship (CR) of land surface evapotranspiration (ET) by specifying the maximum possible evaporation rate (Epmax) of a small water body (or wet patch) as a result of adiabatic drying from the prevailing near-neutral atmospheric conditions. In dimensionless form the CR therefore becomes yB = f(Epmax-Ep/ Epmax-Ew xB) = f(X) =2X2-X3, where yB = ET/Ep, xB = Ew/Ep. Ew is the wet-environment evaporation rate as given by the Priestley-Taylor equation, Ep is the evaporation rate of the same small wet surface for which Epmax is specified and estimated by the Penman equation. With the help of North American Regional Reanalysis data, the CR this way yields better continental-scale performance than earlier, calibrated versions of it and is on par with current land surface model results, the latter requiring vegetation, soil information and soil moisture bookkeeping. Validation has been performed by Parameter-Elevation Regressions on Independent Slopes Model precipitation and United States Geological Survey runoff data. A novel approach is also introduced to calculate the value of the Priestley-Taylor parameter to be used with continental-scale data, making the new formulation of the CR completely calibration free.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)264-278
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 16 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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