Several methods for quantifying ET for two rangeland vegetation types over an 8-yr study period agreed well with each other. Methods included eddy covariance systems, soil water storage loss measured by time domain reflectometry and neutron probe, and model simulation.
Evapotranspiration (ET) was quantified for two rangeland vegetation types, aspen and sagebrush-grassland, over an 8-yr study period by comparing the following approaches for estimating ET: eddy covariance systems (EC, available for only 6 yr); soil water storage loss measured by time domain reflectometry (TDR) and neutron probe; and model simulation. The research site, the Upper Sheep Creek catchment in the Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed, is part of a study on the effects of prescribed fire and vegetation removal. Estimates of seasonal ET for the aspen using EC with the turbulent fluxes adjusted to force energy balance closure, a 180-cm TDR soil profile, two 225-cm neutron access tubes, and the Simultaneous Heat and Water (SHAW) model agreed well with each other. If the two neutron probes were averaged, the RMSD of all approaches over the 6 yr was within 8% of the average. For the sagebrush-grassland, a 120-cm TDR profile underestimated seasonal ET for all years except the year immediately following the prescribed fire, when rooting depth likely had not recovered. A 195-cm neutron probe access tube located within 30 m of the stream underestimated ET for every year except when there was no streamflow, suggesting that lateral flow may have biased the results for this tube. A comparison of the other methods (EC flux adjusted to force energy balance closure, soil water loss measured from a 225-cm neutron access tube, and SHAW model simulation) agreed within 3% during the 6 yr with EC measurements at that site.