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Modeling and analysis of actual evapotranspiration using data driven and wavelet techniques



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Large-scale mining practices have disturbed many natural watersheds in northern Alberta, Canada. To restore disturbed landscapes and ecosystems’ functions, reconstruction strategies have been adopted with the aim of establishing sustainable reclaimed lands. The success of the reconstruction process depends on the design of reconstruction strategies, which can be optimized by improving the understanding of the controlling hydrological processes in the reconstructed watersheds. Evapotranspiration is one of the important components of the hydrological cycle; its estimation and analysis are crucial for better assessment of the reconstructed landscape hydrology, and for more efficient design. The complexity of the evapotranspiration process and its variability in time and space has imposed some limitations on previously developed evapotranspiration estimation models. The vast majority of the available models estimate the rate of potential evapotranspiration, which occurs under unlimited water supply condition. However, the rate of actual evapotranspiration (AET) depends on the available soil moisture, which makes its physical modeling more complicated than the potential evapotranspiration. The main objective of this study is to estimate and analyze the AET process in a reconstructed landscape. Data driven techniques can model the process without having a complete understanding of its physics. In this study, three data driven models; genetic programming (GP), artificial neural networks (ANNs), and multilinear regression (MLR), were developed and compared for estimating the hourly eddy covariance (EC)-measured AET using meteorological variables. The AET was modeled as a function of five meteorological variables: net radiation (Rn), ground temperature (Tg), air temperature (Ta), relative humidity (RH), and wind speed (Ws) in a reconstructed landscape located in northern Alberta, Canada. Several ANN models were evaluated using two training algorithms of Levenberg-Marquardt and Bayesian regularization. The GP technique was employed to generate mathematical equations correlating AET to the five meteorological variables. Furthermore, the available data were statistically analyzed to obtain MLR models and to identify the meteorological variables that have significant effect on the evapotranspiration process. The utility of the investigated data driven models was also compared with that of HYDRUS-1D model, which is a physically based model that makes use of conventional Penman-Monteith (PM) method for the prediction of AET. HYDRUS-1D model was examined for estimating AET using meteorological variables, leaf area index, and soil moisture information. Furthermore, Wavelet analysis (WA), as a multiresolution signal processing tool, was examined to improve the understanding of the available time series temporal variations, through identifying the significant cyclic features, and to explore the possible correlation between AET and the meteorological signals. WA was used with the purpose of input determination of AET models, a priori. The results of this study indicated that all three proposed data driven models were able to approximate the AET reasonably well; however, GP and MLR models had better generalization ability than the ANN model. GP models demonstrated that the complex process of hourly AET can be efficiently modeled as simple semi-linear functions of few meteorological variables. The results of HYDRUS-1D model exhibited that a physically based model, such as HYDRUS-1D, might perform on par or even inferior to the data driven models in terms of the overall prediction accuracy. The developed equation-based models; GP and MLR, revealed the larger contribution of net radiation and ground temperature, compared to other variables, to the estimation of AET. It was also found that the interaction effects of meteorological variables are important for the AET modeling. The results of wavelet analysis demonstrated the presence of both small-scale (2 to 8 hours) and larger-scale (e.g. diurnal) cyclic features in most of the investigated time series. Larger-scale cyclic features were found to be the dominant source of temporal variations in the AET and most of the meteorological variables. The results of cross wavelet analysis indicated that the cause and effect relationship between AET and the meteorological variables might vary based on the time-scale of variation under consideration. At small time-scales, significant linear correlations were observed between AET and Rn, RH, and Ws time series, while at larger time-scales significant linear correlations were observed between AET and Rn, RH, Tg, and Ta time series.



eddy-covariance, actual evapotranspiration, genetic programming, multilinear regression, artificial neural networks, wavelet analysis



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Civil and Geological Engineering


Civil and Geological Engineering


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