Assessment of reference evapotranspiration methods in semi-arid regions: can weather forecast data be used as alternate of ground meteorological parameters? Can weather forecast data be used as alternate of ground meteorological parameters?

S Er-Raki, Abdelghani Chehbouni, S Khabba, Vincent Simonneaux, Lionel Jarlan, A Ouldbba, JC Rodriguez, R Allen

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In this study, the performance of three empirical methods for estimating reference evapotranspiration (ET0): Makkink (Mak) and Priestley-Taylor (PT) (radiation-based) and Hargreaves-Samani (HARG) (temperature-based) were assessed in semi-arid regions. The values of ET0 derived using these three methods were compared to those estimated using the reference FAO Penman-Monteith (FAO-PM) method under semi-arid conditions of the Tensift basin (central of Morocco) and the Yaqui Valley (Northwest Mexico). The results showed that the HARG method is the best one to estimate ET0 over both semi-arid test sites. Conversely, the performance of the other two empirical methods was poor except under humid conditions. However when the parameters α and Cm figurate in the PT and Mak equations are locally calibrated, the performance of these two methods greatly improved. Additionally, this study showed that, when measurements of meteorological parameters needed for estimating ET0 (which are not always available especially in developing countries) are lacking, the climatic data generated with numerical weather prediction models provide an alternative and effective solution to estimate ET0. In this regard, data generated using a weather forecast model (ALADIN) over the Tensift basin showed that the HARG model is the most accurate one for estimating the spatio-temporal variability of ET0.

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)1587-1596
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was performed as a part of research supported by the European Union 5th Framework through two INCO-MED Projects: SUDMED/IRRIMED ( ) and PLEIADeS ( ). The referees and the editor comments are gratefully acknowledged.


  • ALADIN model
  • Reference evapotranspiration
  • Semi-arid environment

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