Evapotranspiration from Landsat

  • Released Monday, September 14, 2009

Instruments on the Landsat satellites capture images in the visible spectrum, but they also take images in wavelengths invisible to the naked eye. Landsat's thermal imager captures land surface temperature data. As farmers irrigate fields, water evaporates from the soil and transpires from plants' leaves. The combined process is called evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiring water absorbs energy, so farm fields consuming more water appear cooler in the thermal band. Landsat-based evapotranspiration measurements provide an objective way for water managers to assess on a field-by-field basis how much water agricultural growers are using. The measurements have even been used to help settle water rights conflicts in court.

In this animation, the first image shows an agricultural region in Idaho on August 14, 2000, captured in the visible spectrum. The round, green circles are irrigated farm fields. The second image, using Landsat's thermal band, depicts cooler and warmer areas. Irrigated fields appear cooler because evapotranspiring water absorbs energy and cools the fields. The thermal image dissolves into a map of evapotranspiration, created using the METRIC tool.

This visible spectrum image shows an agricultural region in Idaho. The round, green circles are individual irrigated farm fields. The image was created by combining Landsat bands 1, 2 and 3.

This visible spectrum image shows an agricultural region in Idaho. The round, green circles are individual irrigated farm fields. The image was created by combining Landsat bands 1, 2 and 3.

This thermal band image shows the same agricultural region in Idaho on the same day. The thermal band - Landsat's band 6 - captures data on land surface temperature. As agricultural growers irrigate farm fields, water evaporating from the soil and transpiring from the plants' leaves absorbs energy and cools the fields.

This thermal band image shows the same agricultural region in Idaho on the same day. The thermal band - Landsat's band 6 - captures data on land surface temperature. As agricultural growers irrigate farm fields, water evaporating from the soil and transpiring from the plants' leaves absorbs energy and cools the fields.

This image is a map of evapotranspiration of the same agricultural region in Idaho on the same day,  created by processing Landsat data with the METRIC tool.

This image is a map of evapotranspiration of the same agricultural region in Idaho on the same day, created by processing Landsat data with the METRIC tool.



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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Monday, September 14, 2009.
This page was last updated on Monday, July 15, 2024 at 12:00 AM EDT.


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