A coupled ground heat flux-surface energy balance model of evaporation using thermal remote sensing observations

Bimal K. Bhattacharya, Kaniska Mallick, Devansh Desai, Ganapati S. Bhat, Ross Morrison, Jamie R. Clevery, William Woodgate, Jason Beringer, Kerry Cawse-Nicholson, Siyan Ma, Joseph Verfaillie, Dennis Baldocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


One of the major undetermined problems in evaporation (ET) retrieval using thermal infrared remote sensing is the lack of a physically based ground heat flux (G) model and its integration within the surface energy balance (SEB) equation. Here, we present a novel approach based on coupling a thermal inertia (TI)-based mechanistic G model with an analytical surface energy balance model, Surface Temperature Initiated Closure (STIC, version STIC1.2). The coupled model is named STIC-TI. The model is driven by noon-night (13:30 and 01:30 local time) land surface temperature, surface albedo, and a vegetation index from MODIS Aqua in conjunction with a clear-sky net radiation sub-model and ancillary meteorological information. SEB flux estimates from STIC-TI were evaluated with respect to the in situ fluxes from eddy covariance measurements in diverse ecosystems of contrasting aridity in both the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere. Sensitivity analysis revealed substantial sensitivity of STIC-TI-derived fluxes due to the land surface temperature uncertainty. An evaluation of noontime G (Gi) estimates showed 12 %-21 % error across six flux tower sites, and a comparison between STIC-TI versus empirical G models also revealed the substantially better performance of the former. While the instantaneous noontime net radiation (RNi) and latent heat flux (LEi) were overestimated (15 % and 25 %), sensible heat flux (Hi) was underestimated (22 %). Overestimation (underestimation) of LEi (Hi) was associated with the overestimation of net available energy (RNi-Gi) and use of unclosed surface energy balance flux measurements in LEi (Hi) validation. The mean percent deviations in Gi and Hi estimates were found to be strongly correlated with satellite day-night view angle difference in parabolic and linear pattern, and a relatively weak correlation was found between day-night view angle difference versus LEi deviation. Findings from this parameter-sparse coupled G-ET model can make a valuable contribution to mapping and monitoring the spatiotemporal variability of ecosystem water stress and evaporation using noon-night thermal infrared observations from future Earth observation satellite missions such as TRISHNA, LSTM, and SBG.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5521-5551
Number of pages31
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2022


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