Remote sensing-based evapotranspiration (ET) products have been evaluated primarily using data from northern middle latitudes; therefore, little is known about their performance at low latitudes. To address this bias, an evaluation dataset was compiled using eddy covariance data from 40 sites between latitudes 30° S and 30° N. The flux data were obtained from the emerging network in Mexico (MexFlux) and from openly available databases of FLUXNET, AsiaFlux, and OzFlux. This unique reference dataset was then used to evaluate remote sensing-based ET products in environments that have been underrepresented in earlier studies. The evaluated products were: MODIS ET (MOD16, both the discontinued collection 5 (C5) and the latest collection (C6)), Global Land Evaporation Amsterdam Model (GLEAM) ET, and Atmosphere-Land Exchange Inverse (ALEXI) ET. Products were compared with unadjusted fluxes (ETorig) and with fluxes corrected for the lack of energy balance closure (ETebc). Three common statistical metrics were used: coefficient of determination (R2), root mean square error (RMSE), and percent bias (PBIAS). The effect of a vegetation mismatch between pixel and site on product evaluation results was investigated by examining the relationship between the statistical metrics and product-specific vegetation match indexes. Evaluation results of this study and those published in the literature were used to examine the performance of the products across latitudes. Differences between the MOD16 collection 5 and 6 datasets were generally smaller than differences with the other products. Performance and ranking of the evaluated products depended on whether ETorig or ETebc was used. When using ETorig, GLEAM generally had the highest R2, smallest PBIAS, and best RMSE values across the studied land cover types and climate zones. Neither MOD16 nor ALEXI performed consistently better than the other. When using ETebc, none of the products stood out in terms of both low bias and strong correlations. The use of ETebc instead of ETorig affected the biases more than the correlations. The product evaluation results showed no significant relationship with the degree of match between the vegetation at the pixel and site scale. The latitudinal comparison showed tendencies of lower R2 (all products) but better PBIAS and normalized RMSE values (MOD16 and GLEAM) for forests at low latitudes than for forests at northern middle latitudes. For non-forest vegetation, the products showed no clear latitudinal differences in performance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Water Science and Technology