Atmospheric evaporative demand observations, estimates and driving factors in Spain (1961-2011)

Cesar Azorin-Molina, Sergio M. Vicente-Serrano, Arturo Sanchez-Lorenzo, Tim R. McVicar, Enrique Morán-Tejeda, Jesús Revuelto, Ahmed M. El Kenawy, Natalia Martín-Hernández, M. Tomàs

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50 Scopus citations


We analyzed the spatio-temporal evolution of evaporation observations from Piché atmometers (1961-2011; 56 stations) and Pan evaporimeters (1984-2011; 21 stations) across Spain, and compared both measurements with evaporation estimates obtained by four physical models: i.e., Food and Agricultural Organization-56 Penman-Monteith, Food and Agricultural Organization-Pan, PenPan and Penman, based on climate data. In this study we observed a positive and statistically significant correlation between Piché and Pan evaporation measurements during the common period (1984-2011; 19 stations), mainly in summer. When evaporation observations and estimates were compared, we detected positive and statistically significant correlations with the four methods, except for winter. Among the four physical models, the FAO-Pan showed the best fitting to both Piché and Pan evaporation measurements; the PenPan model overestimated evaporation rates; and the FAO-Penman-Monteith and Penman methods underestimated evaporation observations. We also observed a better spatial agreement between Pan evaporation and estimates than that obtained by Piché measurements. Annual and seasonal trends of evaporation estimates show a statistically significant increase for 1961-2011, which do not agree with long-term Piché evaporation trends; e.g. a discontinuity was found around the 1980s. Radiative and aerodynamic driving factors suggest that this discontinuity, and the observed evaporation trends across Spain could be associated with the abrupt increase in air temperature observed during last few decades (i.e., global warming). Further investigations using available Piché evaporation observations for other regions are needed to better understand physical components influencing long-term trends of evaporation.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-277
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Apr 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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