Variation and uncertainty in evaporation from a subtropical estuary: Florida Bay

René M. Price, William K. Nuttle, Bernard J. Cosby, Peter K. Swart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Variation and uncertainty in estimated evaporation was determined over time and between two locations in Florida Bay, a subtropical estuary. Meteorological data were collected from September 2001 to August 2002 at Rabbit Key and Butternut Key within the Bay. Evaporation was estimated using both vapor flux and energy budget methods. The results were placed into a long-term context using 33 years of temperature and rainfall data collected in south Florida. Evaporation also was estimated from this long-term data using an empirical formula relating evaporation to clear sky solar radiation and air temperature. Evaporation estimates for the 12-mo period ranged from 144 to 175 cm yr -1, depending on location and method, with an average of 163 cm yr-1 (± 9%). Monthly values ranged from 9.2 to 18.5 cm, with the highest value observed in May, corresponding with the maximum in measured net radiation. Uncertainty estimates derived from measurement errors in the data were as much as 10%, and were large enough to obscure differences in evaporation between the two sites. Differences among all estimates for any month indicate the overall uncertainty in monthly evaporation, and ranged from 9% to 26%. Over a 33-yr period (1970-2002), estimated annual evaporation from Florida Bay ranged from 148 to 181 cm yr-1, with an average of 166 cm yr -1. Rainfall was consistently lower in Florida Bay than evaporation, with a long-term average of 106 cm yr-1. Rainfall considered alone was uncorrected with evaporation at both monthly and annual time scales; when the seasonal variation in clear sky radiation was also taken into account both net radiation and evaporation were significantly suppressed in months with high rainfall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-506
Number of pages10
JournalEstuaries and Coasts
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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