Historical gridded reconstruction of potential evapotranspiration for the UK

Tanguy, Maliko; Prudhomme, Christel; Smith, Katie; Hannaford, Jamie. 2018 Historical gridded reconstruction of potential evapotranspiration for the UK. Earth System Science Data Discussions.

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Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) is a necessary input data for most hydrological models and is usually needed at a daily or shorter time-step. An accurate estimation of PET requires many input climate variables which are in most cases not available prior to the 1960s for the UK, nor indeed most parts of the world. Therefore, when applying hydrological models for reconstructing earlier periods, modellers have to rely on PET estimation derived from simplified methods. Given that only monthly observed temperature data is readily available for the late 19th and early 20th century at a national scale for the UK, the objective of this work was to derive the best possible UK-wide gridded PET dataset with the limited data available. To that end, firstly, a combination of (i) seven temperature-based PET equations, (ii) four different calibration approaches and (iii) seven input temperature data were evaluated against a gridded daily PET product based on the physically-based Penman-Monteith equation (the CHESS PET dataset), the rationale being that this provides a reliable ground-truth PET dataset for evaluation purposes, given that no directly observed, distributed PET datasets exist. The performance of the models was also compared to the simplest possible estimation of PET (naïve method) in the absence of any available climate data, the CHESS PET daily long term average (the period from 1961 to 1990 was chosen for this study), or CHESS-PET daily climatology. The analysis revealed that the type of calibration and the input temperature dataset had only a minor effect in the accuracy of the PET estimations at catchment scale. From the seven equations tested, only the calibrated version of the McGuinness-Bordne equation was able to outperform the naïve method and was therefore used to derive the gridded, reconstructed dataset. The equation was calibrated using 43 catchments across Great Britain. The dataset produced is a 5-km gridded PET dataset for the period 1891 to 2015, using as input data for the PET equation the Met Office 5-km monthly gridded temperature data available for that time period, which was disaggregated to daily temperature using pchip (piecewise cubic hermite interpolating polynomial) method. The dataset includes daily and monthly PET grids and is complemented with a suite of mapped performance metrics to help users assess the quality of the data spatially. The data can be accessed here:

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
CEH Sections/Science Areas: Water Resources (Science Area 2017-)
CEH Fellows
ISSN: 1866-3591
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
NORA Subject Terms: Hydrology
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Date made live: 16 Feb 2018 17:32 +0 (UTC)

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