Evaluating evapotranspiration and water-use efficiency of terrestrial ecosystems in the conterminous United States using MODIS and AmeriFlux data


In this study, we used the remotely-sensed data from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS), meteorological and eddy flux data and an artificial neural networks (ANNs) technique to develop a daily evapotranspiration (ET) product for the period of 2004–2005 for the conterminous U.S. We then estimated and analyzed the regional water-use efficiency (WUE) based on the developed ET and MODIS gross primary production (GPP) for the region. We first trained the ANNs to predict evapotranspiration fraction (EF) based on the data at 28 AmeriFlux sites between 2003 and 2005. Five remotely-sensed variables including land surface temperature (LST), normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), normalized difference water index (NDWI), leaf area index (LAI) and photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) and ground-measured air temperature and wind velocity were used. The daily ET was calculated by multiplying net radiation flux derived from remote sensing products with EF. We then evaluated the model performance by comparing modeled ET with the data at 24 AmeriFlux sites in 2006. We found that the ANNs predicted daily ET well (R2 = 0.52–0.86). The ANNs were applied to predict the spatial and temporal distributions of daily ET for the conterminous U.S. in 2004 and 2005. The ecosystem WUE for the conterminous U.S. from 2004 to 2005 was calculated using MODIS GPP products (MOD17) and the estimated ET. We found that all ecosystems' WUE-drought relationships showed a two-stage pattern. Specifically, WUE increased when the intensity of drought was moderate; WUE tended to decrease under severe drought. These findings are consistent with the observations that WUE does not monotonously increase in response to water stress. Our study suggests a new water-use efficiency mechanism should be considered in ecosystem modeling. In addition, this study provides a high spatial and temporal resolution ET dataset, an important product for climate change and hydrological cycling studies for the MODIS era.


MODIS, Evapotranspiration, Artificial neural networks, Water-use efficiency

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