Evidence for decadal variation in global terrestrial evapotranspiration between 1982 and 2002: 2. Results

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Abstract

[1] Terrestrial evapotranspiration (ET) cools the surface and moistens the atmosphere near the Earth's surface. Variations in this important climate factor have major environmental and socioeconomic impacts. How terrestrial ET has varied in the past and what caused the variations, however, have remained quite uncertain. These issues are addressed by calculating monthly global ET from 1982 to 2002 at 1120 globally distributed stations, using a modified Penman-Monteith method that was developed in the first part of the two-part paper. Our analyses show that ET has a significant decadal variation (∼10%) regionally and globally. Over the period analyzed ET for global land increased by 0.6 W m−2 per decade equal to 1.2 W m−2 (about 2.2% in relative value) or 15 mm yr−1 in water flux during the study period. We show that long-term variations of ET in humid areas such as the tropics, Europe, and humid areas of Asia are primarily controlled by variations in incident solar radiation Rs connected to changes in cloudiness and aerosols. However, soil water supply, estimated here by RH, and connected to precipitation, is the dominant factor in controlling long-term variations of ET in arid areas. A correlation analysis demonstrates that the dependence of ET on Rs switches to negative in dry regions. Furthermore, its dependence on relative humidity switches from negative in moist regions to positive in dry regions. Its dependence on normalized difference vegetation index is uniformly positive.

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