The objective of this study was to explore the improvement in accuracy of estimates for evapotranspiration (ET) over complete growing seasons and monthly periods, when more frequent Landsat imagery is made available. Conversely, we explored the reduction in accuracy in ET estimates when frequency of Landsat imagery was reduced. The study was implemented by conducting a series of METRIC applications for two Landsat WRS path overlap areas, one in southern Idaho (paths 39 and 40) during 2000, and a second one in Nebraska (paths 29 and 30) during 2002, years when two fully functioning satellites, Landsat 5 and Landsat 7, were in orbit. The results indicated that high frequency imagery provided by two satellites covering a WRS path overlap was more able to capture the impacts of rapid crop development and harvest, and evaporation associated by wetting events. That data set simulated a nominal four-day revisit time. Three-simulated 16-day revisit data sets created using a single Landsat series for a single path were unable to produce monthly and growing season ET due to the lack of sufficient number of images to even begin the time-integration process. This emphasizes the need to maintain two Landsat satellites in orbit and the high value of four-day revisit times. Limiting the data set to one path and two satellites (eight-day revisit) underestimated growing season ET accordingly by about 8% on average. Error in monthly ET was relatively high when image availability was limited to that for an eight-day revisit. This is due to the importance of timing of images to identify key inflection points in the ETrF curves and to capture special events such as wetting events from irrigation and rain or from water stress or cuttings, as in the case of forage crops. Results suggest that a four-day revisit time as represented by the full-run (run 1) of our analysis provides robustness in the development of time-integrated ET estimates over months and growing seasons, and is a valuable backstop for mitigation of clouded images over extended periods.
Part of the book: Advanced Evapotranspiration Methods and Applications