Evaluating the two-source energy balance model using local thermal and surface flux observations in a strongly advective irrigated agricultural area

William P. Kustas, Joseph G. Alfieri, Martha C. Anderson, Paul D. Colaizzi, John H. Prueger, Steven R. Evett, Christopher M.U. Neale, Andrew N. French, Lawrence E. Hipps, José L. Chávez, Karen S. Copeland, Terry A. Howell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Application and validation of many thermal remote sensing-based energy balance models involve the use of local meteorological inputs of incoming solar radiation, wind speed and air temperature as well as accurate land surface temperature (LST), vegetation cover and surface flux measurements. For operational applications at large scales, such local information is not routinely available. In addition, the uncertainty in LST estimates can be several degrees due to sensor calibration issues, atmospheric effects and spatial variations in surface emissivity. Time differencing techniques using multi-temporal thermal remote sensing observations have been developed to reduce errors associated with deriving the surface-air temperature gradient, particularly in complex landscapes. The Dual-Temperature-Difference (DTD) method addresses these issues by utilizing the Two-Source Energy Balance (TSEB) model of Norman et al. (1995) [1], and is a relatively simple scheme requiring meteorological input from standard synoptic weather station networks or mesoscale modeling. A comparison of the TSEB and DTD schemes is performed using LST and flux observations from eddy covariance (EC) flux towers and large weighing lysimeters (LYs) in irrigated cotton fields collected during BEAREX08, a large-scale field experiment conducted in the semi-arid climate of the Texas High Plains as described by Evett et al. (2012) [2]. Model output of the energy fluxes (i.e., net radiation, soil heat flux, sensible and latent heat flux) generated with DTD and TSEB using local and remote meteorological observations are compared with EC and LY observations. The DTD method is found to be significantly more robust in flux estimation compared to the TSEB using the remote meteorological observations. However, discrepancies between model and measured fluxes are also found to be significantly affected by the local inputs of LST and vegetation cover and the representativeness of the remote sensing observations with the local flux measurement footprint.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-133
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
StatePublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Evapotranspiration
  • Land surface temperature
  • Thermal remote sensing
  • Time differencing methods
  • Two-source energy balance modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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