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Remote Sensing







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NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration NNX17AF51G


NASA, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Evapotranspiration (ET) is a key variable for hydrology and irrigation water management,with significant importance in drought-stricken regions of the western US. This is particularly true for California, which grows much of the high-value perennial crops in the US. The advent of small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) with sensor technology similar to satellite platforms allows for the estimation of high-resolution ET at plant spacing scale for individual fields. However, while multiple efforts have been made to estimate ET from sUAS products, the sensitivity of ET models to different model grid size/resolution in complex canopies, such as vineyards, is still unknown.The variability of row spacing, canopy structure, and distance between fields makes this information necessary because additional complexity processing individual fields. Therefore, processing the entire image at a fixed resolution that is potentially larger than the plant-row separation is more efficient.From a computational perspective, there would be an advantage to running models at much coarser resolutions than the very fine native pixel size from sUAS imagery for operational applications. In this study, the Two-Source Energy Balance with a dual temperature (TSEB2T) model, which uses remotely sensed soil/substrate and canopy temperature from sUAS imagery, was used to estimate ET and identify the impact of spatial domain scale under different vine phenological conditions. The analysis relies upon high-resolution imagery collected during multiple years and times by the Utah State University Aggie Air TM sUAS program over a commercial vineyard located near Lodi, California.This project is part of the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grape Remote Sensing Atmospheric Profile and Evapotranspiration eXperiment (GRAPEX). Original spectral and thermal imagery data from sUAS were at 10 cm and 60 cm per pixel, respectively, and multiple spatial domain scales (3.6, 7.2,14.4, and 30 m) were evaluated and compared against eddy covariance (EC) measurements. Results indicated that the TSEB2T model is only slightly affected in the estimation of the net radiation (Rn) and the soil heat flux (G) at different spatial resolutions, while the sensible and latent heat fluxes (HandLE, respectively) are significantly affected by coarse grid sizes. The results indicated overestimation of H and underestimation of LE values, particularly at Landsat scale (30 m). This refers to the non-linear relationship between the land surface temperature (LST) and the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) at coarse model resolution. Another predominant reason for LE reduction in TSEB2T was the decrease in the aerodynamic resistance (Ra), which is a function of the friction velocity (u∗)that varies with mean canopy height and roughness length. While a small increase in grid size can be implemented, this increase should be limited to less than twice the smallest row spacing present in the sUAS imagery. The results also indicated that the mean LE at field scale is reduced by 10% to 20% at coarser resolutions, while the with-in field variability in LE values decreased significantly at the larger grid sizes and ranged between approximately 15% and 45%. This implies that, while the field-scale values of LE are fairly reliable at larger grid sizes, the with-in field variability limits its use for precision agriculture applications.