Estimation of real evapotranspiration and its variation in Mediterranean landscapes of central-southern Chile
Evapotranspiration (ETd) is a key controller in the ecohydrological processes of semi-arid landscapes. This is the case of the dry land in Chile's central-southern zone, where forestry, farming and livestock activities must adapt to precipitation with considerable year-on-year variations. In this study, the spatial distribution of ETd was estimated in relation to the land use map and physical parameters of the soil. The ETd was estimated through the Simplified Surface Energy Balance Index (S-SEBI) using data from weather stations and remote data provided by the ASTER and MODIS sensors for November 2004 and 2006, respectively. The spatial variability of ETd was compared among different plant types, soil textural classes and depths using non-parametric statistical tests. In this comparison, the highest rates of ETd were obtained in the forest covers with values of 7.3 ± 0.8 and 8.4 ± 0.8 mm d-1 for 2004 and 2006, respectively. The lowest values were estimated for pastures and shrublands with values of 3.5 ± 1.2 mm d-1 and for crops with rates of 4.4 ± 1.6 mm d-1. Comparison of the ETd of the native forest covers and plantations of exotic species showed statistically significant differences; however, no great variation was noted, at least in the study months. Additionally, the highest rates of ETd were found in the clay loam textures (6.0 ± 1.8 and 6.4 ± 2.0 mm d-1) and the lowest rates in the sandy loam soils (3.7 ± 1.6 and 3.9 ± 1.6 mm d-1) for 2004 and 2006, respectively. The results enable analysis of the spatial patterns of the landscape in terms of the relation between water consumption, ET and the biophysical characteristics of a Mediterranean ecosystem. These results form part of the creation of tools useful in the optimization of decision-making for the management and planning of water resources and soil use in territories with few measuring instruments.