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Automated Calibration of the METRIC-Landsat Evapotranspiration Process


  • Paper No. JAWRA-12-0112-P of the Journal of the American Water Resources Association (JAWRA).
  • Discussions are open until six months from print publication.


A remaining challenge to applying satellite-based energy-balance algorithms for operational estimation of evapotranspiration (ET) is the calibration of the energy-balance model. Customized calibration for each image date is generally required to overcome biases associated with radiometric accuracy of the image, uncertainties in aerodynamic features of the landscape, background thermal conditions, and model assumptions. The CIMEC process (calibration using inverse modeling at extreme conditions) is an endpoint calibration procedure where near extreme conditions in the image are identified where the ET can be estimated and assigned. In the Mapping EvapoTranspiration at high Resolution with Internalized Calibration (METRIC™) energy-balance model, two endpoints represent the dry and wet ends of the ET spectrum. Generally, user-intervention is required to select locations in the image to produce best accuracy. To bring the METRIC and similar processes into the domain of less experienced operators, a consistent, reproducible, and dependable statistics-based procedure is introduced where relationships between vegetation amount and surface temperature are used to identify a subpopulation of locations (pixels) in an image that may best represent the calibration endpoints. This article describes the background and logic for the statistical approach, how the statistics were developed, area of interest requirements and assumptions, adjustment for dry conditions in desert climates, and implementation in a common image processing environment (ERDAS Imagine).