Calibration of the equations of Hargreaves and Thornthwaite to estimate the potential evapotranspiration in semi-arid and subhumid tropical climates for regional applications



The Penman-method (PM) to estimate the reference evapotranspiration (ETo) needs four meteorological parameters: air temperature, relative humidity, wind velocity, and net radiation, which may not be everywhere available and is the most reliable method and recommended by the FAO as the standard to verify other empirical methods. However, the Thornthwaite (TM) and Hargreaves (HM) models are frequently used because they are based on measurements of air temperature, commonly recorded in many meteorological stations throughout the world, becoming an option for estimating ETo. Nevertheless, in order to obtain appropriate results, the equations need to be locally calibrated. In the present study, the original coefficients of the TM and HM were modified for regional calibration in semi-arid and tropical subhumid in the state of Yucatán, México, using as a standard the Penman- equations of FAO. Meteorological data from two stations in the state of Yucatán, México were used, corresponding to a coastal, semi-arid climate (Progreso) and an inland, tropical subhumid climate (Mérida). In the comparison, the indices of concordance (D), confidence (C), correlation (R) and regression (R2) were analyzed, together with the mean bias error (MBE), root mean square error (RMSE), relative error (RE) indicators and the ratio between both average estimations of ETo (r). Using the HM without adjustment, we obtained good estimations of ETo, both in Mérida and in Progreso, with C values of 0.825 and 0.816, respectively. The use of TM without adjustment is not recommended in neither of the studied meteorological stations. However, in both stations, TM without adjustment is the best model for the estimation of ETo during the rainy months (from June to October). In both inland and coastal meteorological stations, better annual estimations of ETo are obtained by the use of the HM with adjustment (C values of 0.906 and 0.917 respectively).


Calibration, evapotranspiration, Hargreaves, Thornthwaite, Yucatán, México

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