Reliable evapotranspiration (ET) estimation is a key factor for water resources planning, attaining sustainable water resources use, irrigation water management, and water regulation. During the past few decades, researchers have developed a variety of remote sensing techniques to estimate ET. The Earth Engine Evapotranspiration Flux (EEFlux) application uses Landsat imagery archives on the Google Earth Engine platform to calculate the daily evapotranspiration at the local field scale (30 m). Automatically calibrated for each Landsat image, the EEFlux application design is based on the widely vetted Mapping Evapotranspiration at high Resolution with Internalized Calibration (METRIC) model and produces ET estimation maps for any Landsat 5, 7 or 8 scene in a matter of seconds. In this research we evaluate the consistency and accuracy of EEFlux products that are produced when standard US and global assets are used. Processed METRIC products for 58 scenes distributed around the western and central United States were used as the baseline for comparison. The goal of this paper is to compare the results from EEFlux with the standard METRIC applications to illustrate the utility of the EEFlux products as they currently stand. Given that EEFlux is derived from METRIC, differences are expected to occur due to differing calibration methods (automatic versus manual) and differing input datasets. The products compared include the fraction of reference ET (ETrF), actual ET (ETa), and surface energy balance components net radiation (Rn), ground heat flux (G), and sensible heat flux (H), as well as Ts, albedo and NDVI. The product comparisons show that the intermediate products of Ts, Albedo, and NDVI, and also Rn have similar values and behavior for both EEFlux and METRIC. Larger differences were found for H and G. Despite the more significant differences in H and G, results show that EEFlux is able to calculate ETrF and ETa values comparable to the values from trained expert METRIC users for agricultural areas. For non-agricultural areas such as semi-arid rangeland and forests, the automated EEFlux calibration algorithm needs to be improved in order to be able to reproduce ETrF and ETa that is similar to the manually calibrated METRIC products.
Google Earth Engine; EEFlux; METRIC; evapotranspiration; Landsat; water resources management
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