Evapotranspiration and Water Use Mapping

Science Center Objects

A planet with limited water resources needs accurate, reliable and frequently-updated tools to measure water use and plan for future needs. Scientists at EROS harness the remote sensing capabilities of satellite data to offer powerful tools that resource managers across the United States can use to gain insight into the water use needs of agricultural land, forests, and public green spaces.

An evapotranspiration (ET) map showing Sesasonal Cumulative ET Anomaly in the conterminous United States

An evapotranspiration (ET) map from the U.S. Geological Survey showing Sesasonal Cumulative ET Anomoly in the conterminous United States.

The Operational Simplified Surface Energy Balance (SSEBop) model developed at EROS estimates water use by plants in irrigated fields using thermal data from Landsat’s Operational Land Imager (OLI) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) onboard NASA’s Terra satellite.

SSEBop combines rates of evaporation from the soil and transpiration from plants to return evapotranspiration (ET) readings that can help water managers decide how much water is needed throughout the growing season.

The model supports various aspects of the USGS Water Use Mission Area, including the National Water Use Science Project and the National Water Census, which releases a trove of water use information every five years.

EROS produces actual ET maps that depict monthly, seasonal cumulative, end of season and yearly anomalies for the conterminous United States, which are color-coded to depict rates above or below the median.

The maps are useful in determining irrigation needs, but also instructive of water use in different environment

The maps, data, product descriptions and helpful links are located online at the SSEBop website.