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# Historical developments of models for estimating evaporation using standard meteorological data

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Published Online: Aug 16 2016

DOI: 10.1002/wat2.1172

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Evaporation plays a key role in the hydrology of a catchment. World‐wide actual terrestrial evaporation is approximately two third of terrestrial precipitation. Evaporation is the focus of this study in which we describe the historical developments of models for estimating evaporation from standard meteorological data. Although Aristotle and Descartes made early contributions to understanding evaporation, Perrault is credited with having made the first experimental measurement of evaporation in about 1674 though in fact what he measured was sublimation by recording the loss of weight of a block of ice through time. In 1686, Halley carried out the first direct measurement of the evaporation of liquid water. Following a detailed set of experiments, Dalton in 1802 published an essay describing the relationship between evaporation, vapor pressure deficit, and wind speed which is the forerunner of the mass‐transfer equation to estimate open‐water evaporation. In 1921, Cummings proposed an approximate energy balance equation which in 1948 Penman combined with a mass‐transfer equation based on Dalton's work to develop the Penman equation. A key input was the Bowen ratio published in 1926. Following Penman, the next major development was by Monteith in 1965. He modified Penman's equation for a single leaf to deal with a canopy which led to the Penman–Monteith model and is the basis of the FAO56 Reference Crop model. Priestley and Taylor introduced their model in 1972, which is based on the energy term in Penman's equation, and underpins other models. The application of the Complementary Relationship to estimating regional evaporation is credited separately to Brutsaert and Stricker and to Morton. Budyko offered two important contributions. First, he developed a potential evaporation equation in which the evaporating surface temperature was estimated by iteration, whereas Penman approximated a value from the Clausius–Clapeyron equation. Budyko's second contribution is a simple relationship to estimate runoff and, in turn, mean actual evaporation. WIREs Water 2016, 3:788–818. doi: 10.1002/wat2.1172 This article is categorized under: Science of Water > Hydrological Processes Science of Water > Methods