Combining the triangle method with thermal inertia to estimate regional evapotranspiration - Applied to MSG-SEVIRI data in the Senegal River basin

Simon Stisen, Inge Sandholt, Anette Nørgaard, Rasmus Fensholt, Karsten Høgh Jensen

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Spatially distributed estimates of evaporative fraction and actual evapotranspiration are pursued using a simple remote sensing technique based on a remotely sensed vegetation index (NDVI) and diumal changes in land surface temperature. The technique, known as the triangle method, is improved by utilizing the high temporal resolution of the geostationary MSG-SEVIRI sensor. With 15 min acquisition intervals, the MSG-SEVIRI data allow for a precise estimation of the morning rise in land surface temperature which is a strong proxy for total daytime sensible heat fluxes. Combining the diumal change in surface temperature, dT(s) with an interpretation of the triangular shaped dT(s)-NDVI space allows for a direct estimation of evaporative fraction. The mean daytime energy available for evapotranspiration (R. - G) is estimated using several remote sensors and limited ancillary data. Finally regional estimates of actual evapotranspiration are made by combining evaporative fraction and available energy estimates. The estimated evaporative fraction (EF) and actual evapotranspiration (ET) for the Senegal River basin have been validated against field observations for the rainy season 2005. The validation results showed low biases and RMSE and R-2 of 0.13 [-] and 0.63 for EF and RMSE of 41.45 W m(-2) and R-2 of 0.66 for ET. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRemote Sensing of Environment
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)1242-1255
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Remote sensing
  • Evaporative fraction
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Surface temperature
  • NDVI
  • Thermal inertia
  • Triangle method

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