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Assessing variability of evapotranspiration over the Ganga river basin using water balance computations


A thorough assessment of evapotranspiration (ET) pervades several important issues of the 21st century including climate change, food-security, land-management, flood and drought prediction, and water resources assessment and management. Such a proper assessment is of particular importance in the Ganga river basin (GRB) with its backdrop of a rapidly increasing population pressure and unregulated use of water resources. Spatially averaged ET over the GRB is computed as the residual of atmospheric and terrestrial water budget computations using a combination of model simulations and satellite and ground-based observations. The best estimate of monthly ET is obtained as the monthly mean of atmospheric and terrestrial water balance computations for the period 1980-2007. The mean monthly average of ET from these various estimates is 72.3±18.8 mm month-1. Monthly variations of ET peak between July and August and reach a minimum in February. For the entire study period, the rate of change of ET across the GRB is -11 mm yr -2 (i.e., mm/yr/yr). Alongside a notable influence of the 1997-1998 El Niño, results allude to the existence of interim periods during which ET trends varied significantly. More specifically, during the period of 1998-2002, the rate of decline increased to -55.8 mm yr -2, which is almost 5 times the overall trend. Based on the correlation between ET and independent estimates of near-surface temperature and soil moisture, we can infer that the ET over the GRB is primarily limited by moisture availability. The analysis has important potential for use in large-scale water budget assessments and intercomparison studies. The analysis also emphasizes the importance of synergistic use of mutliplatform hydrologic information. © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

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