What controls evapotranspiration in the Amazon basin?

Natalia Hasler, Roni Avissar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Global climate models (GCMs) and regional climate models (RCMs) generally show a decrease in the dry season evapotranspiration (ET) rate over the entire Amazon basin. Based on anecdotal observations, it has been suggested that they probably overestimate tropical rain forest water stress. In this study, eddy covariance flux measurements from eight different towers of the Large-Scale Biosphere-Atmosphere Experiment in Amazonia (LBA) were used to provide a first look at the spatial variability and temporal cycle of ET throughout the basin. Results show strong seasonality in ET for stations near the equator (2°-3°S), with ET increasing during the dry season (June-September) and decreasing during the wet season (December-March), both correlated (0.75 to 0.94) and in phase with the net radiation annual cycle. In stations located farther south (9°-11°S) no clear seasonality could be identified in either net radiation or ET. For these more southerly stations, net radiation and ET are still correlated (0.76-0.92) in the wet season, but correlations decrease in the dry season (0-0.71), which is likely associated with water stress. For both pasture sites, located in southern Amazonia, ET decreases during the second half of the dry season, indicating progressively increased water stress. GCMs and RCMs indeed tend to overestimate dry season water stress in the Amazon basin and, therefore, should be revised to better simulate this region, which has a key role in the global hydrometeorology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-395
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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