Climate and ET: Does plant water requirement increase during droughts Conference Paper uri icon


  • Municipalities, engineering consultants and State agencies use reference evapotranspiration (ETo) data (directly and indirectly) for long-term water planning, for designing hydraulic structures, and for establishing regulatory guidance and conservation programs intended to reduce water waste. The use ETo data for agricultural and landscape irrigation scheduling is becoming more common in Texas as ETo-based controllers and automation technologies become more affordable. With the expected rise in global warming and increased frequency of extreme climate variability in the coming decades, conservation and efficient use of water resources is essential and must make use of the most accurate and representative data available. 2011 marked the driest year on record in the State of Texas. Compounding the lack of rainfall was record heat during the Summer of 2011. An analysis of real time ETo (reference evapotranspiration) data in Texas found that ET was 30 to 50% higher than historic averages during the 2011 Summer. The implications are quite serious, as most current water planning and drought contingency plans do not take into consideration increases in ET during such periods, and irrigation planning and capacity sizing are based on historic averages of consumptive use. This paper examines the relationship between ET and climate during this extreme climatic event. While the solar radiation was near normal levels, temperature and wind was much higher and dew points much lower than norms. The variability and statistical difference between average monthly ETo data and daily, monthly and seasonal ETo measurements (from 2006 to 2011) for selected weather stations of the Texas ET Network.

published proceedings

  • American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers Annual International Meeting 2012, ASABE 2012

author list (cited authors)

  • Swanson, C., Smith, D., & Fipps, G.

complete list of authors

  • Swanson, C||Smith, D||Fipps, G

publication date

  • January 2012