Sensitivity of some potential evapotranspiration estimation methods to climate change

Mary S. McKenney, Norman J. Rosenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 Scopus citations


A simulation approach was used to generate estimates of the sensitivity of potential evapotranspiration (ETp) to climate change using eight alternative ETp estimation methods. The methods, which differ in structure and data requirements, were: Thornthwaite, Blaney-Criddle, Hargreaves, Samani-Hargreaves, Jensen-Haise, Priestley-Taylor, Penman, and Penman-Monteith. The simulations were performed using climate data from five sites in the North American Great Plains. The results indicate that the methods differ, in some cases significantly, in their sensitivities to temperature and other climate inputs. The degree of agreement among the methods is affected, to some extent, by location and by time of year. When two GCM-derived scenarios of climatic change were applied, the predicted response of ETp varied in magnitude and in some cases in sign, according to the estimation method used. The differences among methods can be attributed both to differences in their sensitivities to climate, and to differences in the climatic factors they consider. The implications of these findings for studies of climatic change are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-110
Number of pages30
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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