Nevada Water Science Center

Evapotranspiration Studies in Nevada

Contact Information

Mike Moreo
Phone: (702) 564-4625


Mailing Address
Nevada Water Science Center
160 N. Stephanie St.
Henderson, NV 89074


Nevada Water Science Center

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Rabbitbrush ET Station (RAB)

Site identification: 385330118461601

Study contact: Kip Allander

ET Data

Annual ET reported (in inches): 6.9

Study period: 3/01/05 - 2/28/06

Days recorded: 489 from 3/09/05 to 7/11/06


Measurement method: Eddy covariance

Data: Download from NWISWeb

Graph of ET data

Location information

in decimal degrees
in decimal degrees
38.892 -118.771 4068


Photo of ET site


Photo of ET site

ET Source Area

Low-density cover of rabbitbrush.


Study Information

Estimates of total and net evapotranspiration for water years 2005-07 for areas in the Lower Walker River basin in which annual evapotranspiration exceeds annual precipitation were determined and summarized for areas of similar vegetation and soil characteristics, hydrographic subareas, and Walker Lake and Weber Reservoir. The three hydrographic subareas include the area along Walker River north of Walker Lake, the area of and adjacent to Walker Lake, and the area south of Walker Lake. Areas of annual evapotranspiration exceeding annual precipitation were identified and mapped in the field and were further delineated using remote-sensing analysis. These areas were classified into 10 evapotranspiration units. A network of 11 evapotranspiration stations was operated in natural and agricultural vegetation and on Walker Lake. Measured evapotranspiration rates ranged from 0.5 ft/yr at a sparsely vegetated desert shrub site to 5.0 ft/yr from Walker Lake. The greatest evapotranspiration rate on land was 4.1 ft/yr at an irrigated alfalfa field, and the greatest rate for natural vegetation was 3.9 ft/yr in a riparian community along Walker River. At an evapotranspiration station in a saltcedar grove, measurements indicated a possible decrease in evapotranspiration of about 50 percent due to defoliation of the saltcedar by the saltcedar leaf beetle. Total evapotranspiration from the evapotranspiration units identified in the Lower Walker River basin was about 231,000 acre-feet per year (acre-ft/yr). Of this amount, about 45,000 acre-ft/yr originated from direct precipitation, resulting in net evapotranspiration of about 186,000 acre-ft/yr. More than 80 percent of net evapotranspiration in the Lower Walker River basin was through evaporation from Walker Lake. Total evaporation from Walker Lake was about 161,000 acre-ft/yr and net evaporation was about 149,000 acre-ft/yr. Some previous estimates of evaporation from Walker Lake based on water-budget analysis actually represent total evaporation minus ground-water inflow to the lake. Historical evaporation rates determined on the basis of water budget analysis were less than the evaporation rate measured directly during this study. The difference could represent ground-water inflow to Walker Lake of 16,000 to 26,000 acre-ft/yr or could indicate that ground-water inflow to Walker Lake is decreasing over time as the lake perimeter recedes.


Study Publication: SIR2009-5079




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