Articles | Volume 18
20 Jun 2008
 | 20 Jun 2008

A global comparison of four potential evapotranspiration equations and their relevance to stream flow modelling in semi-arid environments

M. Weiß and L. Menzel

Abstract. This study compares four different potential evapotranspiration equations according to Priestley Taylor, Kimberly Penman, Penman Monteith (FAO-56) and Hargreaves on a global basis to demonstrate their difference, and assess their impact on the calculation of stream flows. The various equations of potential evapotranspiration show great differences in magnitude. But due to the limited availability of validation data, it is difficult to assess which method is the physically most reasonable to be applied. According to this study, the radiation-based Priestley Taylor equation proved to be most suitable for a global application. For the calculation of stream flows, however, the processes involved in the derivation of actual evapotranspiration values from potential evapotranspiration values appear more relevant than the absolute value of the potential evapotranspiration itself.