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Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 20 May 2020

Submitted as: research article | 20 May 2020

Review status
This preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Predicting evapotranspiration from drone-based thermography – a method comparison in a tropical oil palm plantation

Florian Ellsäßer1, Christian Stiegler2, Alexander Röll1, Tania June3, Hendrayanto4, Alexander Knohl2,5, and Dirk Hölscher1,5 Florian Ellsäßer et al.
  • 1University of Goettingen, Tropical Silviculture and Forest Ecology,Büsgenweg 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
  • 2University of Goettingen, Bioclimatology, Büsgenweg 2, 37077 Göttingen Germany
  • 3Bogor Agricultural University, Geophysics and Meteorology, Jln. Meranti, 16680 Bogor, Indonesia
  • 4Bogor Agricultural University, Forest Management, Kampus IPB Darmaga, 16680 Bogor, Indonesia
  • 5University of Goettingen, Centre of Biodiversity and Sustainable Land Use,Platz der Göttinger Sieben 5, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

Abstract. For the assessment of evapotranspiration, near-surface airborne thermography offers new opportunities for studies with high numbers of spatial replicates and in a fine spatial resolution. We tested drone-based thermography and the subsequent application of three energy balance models (DATTUTDUT, TSEB-PT, DTD) using the widely accepted eddy covariance technique as a reference method. The study site was a mature oil palm plantation in lowland Sumatra, Indonesia. For the 61 flight missions, latent heat flux estimates of the DATTUTDUT model with measured net radiation agreed well with eddy covariance measurements (r² = 0.85; MAE = 47; RMSE = 60) across variable weather conditions and daytimes. Confidence intervals for slope and intercept of a model II Deming regression suggest no difference between drone-based and eddy covariance method, thus indicating interchangeability. TSEB-PT and DTD yielded agreeable results, but all three models are sensitive to the configuration of the net radiation assessment. Overall, we conclude that drone-based thermography with energy-balance modeling is a reliable method complementing available methods for evapotranspiration studies. It offers promising, additional opportunities for fine grain and spatially explicit studies.

Florian Ellsäßer et al.

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Status: open (until 01 Jul 2020)
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Florian Ellsäßer et al.

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Short summary
Recording land surface temperatures using drones offers new options to predict evapotranspiration based on energy balance models. This study compares predictions from three energy balance models with the eddy covariance method. A model II Deming regression indicates interchangeability for latent heat flux estimates from certain modeling methods and eddy covariance measurements. This complements the available methods for evapotranspiration studies by fine grain and spatially explicit assessments.
Recording land surface temperatures using drones offers new options to predict...