Evaporation from a riparian system in a semi-arid environment

Helene E. Unland, Altaf M. Arain, Chawn Harlow, Paul R. Houser, Jaime Garatuza-Payan, Paul Scott, Omer L. Sen, W. James Shuttleworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Measurements of micrometeorological variables were made for a complete annual cycle using an automatic weather station and two energy budget - Bowen ratio systems at a field site adjacent to the Santa Cruz River in southern Arizona. These data were used to provide the basis of an estimate of the evaporation from a one-mile long losing reach of a riparian corridor in this semi-arid environment. A remotely sensed map of vegetation cover was used to stratify the corridor into five categories of surface cover. The total evaporation was calculated as the area-weighted average of the measured evaporation for sampled areas of the two most common covers, and appropriate estimates of evaporation for the less common covers. Measurements showed a substantial, seasonally dependent evaporation from the taller, deep-rooted riparian cover in the study reach, while the short, sparse vegetation provided little evaporation. In terms of the volume of water evaporated from the study reach, the evaporation from irrigated agriculture accounts for almost half of the total loss, while the majority of the remaining evaporation is from the taller riparian vegetation covers, with about one-quarter of the total loss estimated as coming from obligatory phreatophytes, primarily cottonwood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)527-542
Number of pages16
JournalHydrological Processes
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 30 1998


  • Evaporation
  • Micrometeorological variables
  • Riparian corridor
  • Riparian vegetation
  • Semi-arid environment
  • Sonoran Desert

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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