Defining watershed-scale evaporation using a normalized difference vegetation index

Jozsef Szilagyi, Marc B. Parlange

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Citations (Scopus)


Monthly composites of the Normalized Difference Vegetation Indices (NDVI), derived from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), were transformed linearly into monthly evaporation rates and compared with detailed hydrologic-model simulation results for five watersheds across the United States. Model-simulated monthly evaporation values showed high correlations (mean R2 = .77) with NDVI-derived evaporation estimates. These latter estimates, used in a classical water balance model, resulted in equally accurate simulations of monthly runoff than when the model was run to estimate monthly evaporation via soil moisture accounting. Comparison of NDVI-derived evaporation estimates with pan data showed promise for transforming NDVI values into evaporation estimates under both wet and water-limiting conditions without resorting to the application of any kind of calibrated hydrologic models.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1245-1255
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1999


  • Vegetation index
  • Watershed evaporation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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