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Evaporation and radiation measurements at Salton Sea, California

January 1, 1994

Evaporation from Salton Sea, Calif. was computed for a 539-day period between duly 14, 1967, and January 2, 1969, by use of energy-budget, mass-transfer, and water-budget methods. The total evaporation computed by the three methods agreed within 5 percent. For computing evaporation by the mass-transfer method, vapor pressure measured at raft stations on the sea was considered to be more representative of the conditions over the sea than vapor pressure measured at land stations. The values of heat transfer to and from the bed were used in energy-budget computations. The inclusion of these heat transfer values improved the correlation of evaporation computed by the energy-budget and water-budget methods.

Monthly evaporation computed by the energy budget method for 1968 showed that the Salton Sea exhibited a double-wave evaporation similar to that of oceans in the same latitude.

Weekly and monthly comparisons were made to determine if radiation measured by the flat-plate radiometer is seasonally biased. Weekly totals of radiation from three flat-plate radiometers were compared to values of a Cummings Radiation Integrator. Monthly totals of radiation for each of the two types of instruments were compared to an empirical method for determining radiation. These comparisons indicate that the measurements of radiation by the flat-plate radiometer are not seasonally biased, and that the Cummings Radiation Integrator gives reliable measurements of radiation for periods as short as 1 week.

The net incoming radiation was measured at three stations around the Salton Sea. The areal variation was less than 1 percent on an annual basis and the largest weekly variation was less than 6 percent.

An empirical mass-transfer coefficient, N, was determined from energy-budget measurements. The value of this coefficient to give evaporation in inches per day is 0.00245 when the windspeed is expressed in miles per hour and vapor pressure is expressed in millibars. The coefficient is valid only when data are obtained at the raft stations.