Quantifying outdoor water consumption of urban land use/land cover: Sensitivity to drought

Shai Kaplan, Soe W. Myint, Chao Fan, Anthony J. Brazel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Outdoor water use is a key component in arid city water systems for achieving sustainable water use and ensuring water security. Using evapotranspiration (ET) calculations as a proxy for outdoor water consumption, the objectives of this research are to quantify outdoor water consumption of different land use and land cover types, and compare the spatio-temporal variation in water consumption between drought and wet years. An energy balance model was applied to Landsat 5 TM time series images to estimate daily and seasonal ET for the Central Arizona Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research region (CAP-LTER). Modeled ET estimations were correlated with water use data in 49 parks within CAP-LTER and showed good agreement (r2 = 0.77), indicating model effectiveness to capture the variations across park water consumption. Seasonally, active agriculture shows high ET (>500 mm) for both wet and dry conditions, while the desert and urban land cover types experienced lower ET during drought (<300 mm). Within urban locales of CAP-LTER, xeric neighborhoods show significant differences from year to year, while mesic neighborhoods retain their ET values (400-500 mm) during drought, implying considerable use of irrigation to sustain their greenness. Considering the potentially limiting water availability of this region in the future due to large population increases and the threat of a warming and drying climate, maintaining large water-consuming, irrigated landscapes challenges sustainable practices of water conservation and the need to provide amenities of this desert area for enhancing quality of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)855-864
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Drought
  • Evapotranspiration
  • Landsat
  • Outdoor water use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Pollution


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantifying outdoor water consumption of urban land use/land cover: Sensitivity to drought'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this