Effects of soil moisture aggregation on surface evaporative fluxes

Eric F. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


The effects of small-scale heterogeneity in land surface characteristics on the large-scale fluxes of water and energy in the land-atmosphere system has become a central focus of many climatology research experiments. The acquisition of high resolution land surface data through remote sensing and intensive land-climatology field experiments (like HAPEX, FIFE, and BOREAS) has provided data to investigate the interactions between microscale land-atmosphere interactions and macroscale models. To determine the effect of small scale heterogeneities, the spatially averaged evaporative fraction is analytically derived for spatially variable soil moisture and soil-atmospheric controls on evaporation at low soil moisture. This average evaporative fraction is compared with the evaporative fraction determined using the spatially averaged soil moisture, as if from a lumped, or aggregated, land surface model. Results show that the lumped-model based evaporation will over estimate evaporation during periods of low atmospheric demands (early morning/late afternoon, Winter periods, etc.) and under estimate evaporation during periods of high demand (midday Summer periods.). The accuracy of using 'effective' parameters in lumped macroscale models depends on the variability of soil moisture and the sensitivity of the soil-vegetation system to low soil moisture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)397-412
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Mar 15 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


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