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Global Atmospheric Evaporative Demand over Land from 1973 to 2008

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  • 1 State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
  • | 2 Department of Geological Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas
  • | 3 Department of Geography, University of Maryland, College Park, College Park, Maryland
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Abstract

Pan evaporation (EP), an index of atmospheric evaporative demand, has been widely reported to have weakened in the past decades. However, its interpretation remains controversial because EP observations are not globally available and observations of one of its key controls, surface incident solar radiation Rs, are even less available. Using global-distributed Rs from both direct measurements (available through the Global Energy Balance Archive) and derived from sunshine duration, the authors calculated the potential evaporation from 1982 to 2008 from approximately 1300 stations. The findings herein show that the contribution of water vapor pressure deficit (VPD) to monthly variability of EP is much larger than that of other controlling factors, of Rs, wind speed (WS), and air temperature Ta. The trend of the aerodynamic component of EP, which includes contributions of VPD, WS, and Ta, accounted for 86% of the long-term trend of EP. The aerodynamic component was then calculated from 4250 globally distributed stations and showed a negligible averaged trend from 1973 to 2008 because the reduction in WS canceled out the impact of the elevated VPD. The long-term trend of WS dominates the long-term trend of the aerodynamic component of EP at the 4250 stations. Atmospheric evaporative demand increased in most arid and semiarid areas, indicating a decrease in water availability in those areas.

Corresponding author address: Kaicun Wang, State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China. E-mail: kcwang@bnu.edu.cn

Abstract

Pan evaporation (EP), an index of atmospheric evaporative demand, has been widely reported to have weakened in the past decades. However, its interpretation remains controversial because EP observations are not globally available and observations of one of its key controls, surface incident solar radiation Rs, are even less available. Using global-distributed Rs from both direct measurements (available through the Global Energy Balance Archive) and derived from sunshine duration, the authors calculated the potential evaporation from 1982 to 2008 from approximately 1300 stations. The findings herein show that the contribution of water vapor pressure deficit (VPD) to monthly variability of EP is much larger than that of other controlling factors, of Rs, wind speed (WS), and air temperature Ta. The trend of the aerodynamic component of EP, which includes contributions of VPD, WS, and Ta, accounted for 86% of the long-term trend of EP. The aerodynamic component was then calculated from 4250 globally distributed stations and showed a negligible averaged trend from 1973 to 2008 because the reduction in WS canceled out the impact of the elevated VPD. The long-term trend of WS dominates the long-term trend of the aerodynamic component of EP at the 4250 stations. Atmospheric evaporative demand increased in most arid and semiarid areas, indicating a decrease in water availability in those areas.

Corresponding author address: Kaicun Wang, State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China. E-mail: kcwang@bnu.edu.cn
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