Palmer-type soil modelling for evapotranspiration in different climatic regions of Kenya
Reference evapotranspiration (ET0) and real evapotranspiration (ET) are vital components in hydrological processes and climate-related studies. Understanding their variability in estimation is equally crucial for micro-meteorology and agricultural planning processes. The primary goal of this study was to analyze and compare estimates of (ET0) and (ET) from two different climatic regions of Kenya using long-term quality controlled synoptic station datasets from 2000 to 2009 with 3-hour time resolution. One weather station (Voi, 63793) was sought from lowlands with an elevation of 579 m and characterized by tropical savannah climate while the other (Kitale, 63661) was sought from Kenya highlands with humid conditions and elevation of 1850 m above sea level. Reference evapotranspiration was calculated based on the FAO 56 standard methodology of a daily basis. One dimension Palmer-type soil model was used for estimating of real evapotranspiration using the wilting point, field capacity, and soil saturation point for each station at 1 m deep soil layer. The ratio of real and reference evapotranspiration dependent on the soil moisture stress linearly. Calculations of estimated evapotranspiration were made on daily and monthly basis. Applications of the site-specific crop coefficients (KC) were also used. The result indicated that the differences among daily and monthly scale calculations of evapotranspiration (ET) were small without and with an application of crop coefficients (ETKc). This was due to high temperatures, global radiation, and also high soil moisture stress due to inadequate precipitation experienced in the tropics where Kenya lies. Results from Voi showed that mean monthly ET0 ranged from 148.3±11.6 mm in November to 175.3±10.8 mm in March while ET was from 8.0±4.5 mm in September to 105.8±50.3 mm in January. From Kitale, ET0 ranged from 121.5±8.5 mm/month in June to 157.1±8.5 mm/month in March while ET ranged from 41.7±32.6 mm/month in March to 126.6±12.2 mm/month in September. This was due to variability in temperature and precipitation between the two climatic regions. The study concludes that ET0 and calculated evapotranspiration variability among the years on a monthly scale is slightly higher in arid and semi-arid climate regions than in humid regions. The study is important in strategizing viable means to enhance optimal crop water use and reduce ET losses estimates for optimal agricultural yields and production maximization in Kenya.
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