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Vegetation Index-Based Partitioning of Evapotranspiration Is Deficient in Grazed Systems


Partitioning evapotranspiration (ET) into its primary components, that is, evaporation (E) and plant transpiration (T), is needed in a range of hydrometeorological applications. Using vegetation index (VI) to obtain spatially resolved T:ET ratio over large areas has emerged as a promising approach in this regard. Here, we assess the effectiveness of this approach in differently managed wheat systems. Results show a weak relation between T:ET and VI in disturbed (i.e., grazed) systems. Furthermore, flux partition based on a canonical T:ET versus VI relation or the relation derived in a neighboring undisturbed wheat system introduce large errors in disturbed systems, thus underscoring the limits on the transferability of the VI-based ET partitioning approach. The effectiveness of the VI-based approach is found to be related to the strength of correlation between VI and vapor pressure deficit and/or radiation. This correlation metric can help identify settings where the approach is likely to be effective.

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