STEEP: a remotely-sensed energy balance model for evapotranspiration estimation in seasonally dry tropical forests

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 4 of this Preprint.

Add a Comment

You must log in to post a comment.


There are no comments or no comments have been made public for this article.


Download Preprint


ULISSES ALENCAR BEZERRA , John Cunha, Fernanda Falente, Rodolfo L. B. Nobrega , João Maria de Andrade , Magna Moura, Anne Verhoef, Aldrin Pérez-Marin, Carlos Galvão


Improvement of evapotranspiration (ET) estimates using remote sensing (RS) products based on multispectral and thermal sensors has been a breakthrough in hydrological research. In large-scale applications, methods that use the approach of RS-based surface energy balance (SEB) models often rely on oversimplifications. The use of these models for Seasonally Dry Tropical Forests (SDTF) has been challenging due to incompatibilities between the assumptions underlying those models and the specificities of this environment, such as the highly contrasting phenological phases or ET being mainly controlled by soil–water availability. We developed a RS-based SEB model from a one-source bulk transfer equation, called Seasonal Tropical Ecosystem Energy Partitioning (STEEP). Our model uses the plant area index to represent the woody structure of the plants in calculating the moment roughness length. We included the parameter kB−1 and its correction using RS soil moisture in the calculation of the aerodynamic resistance for heat transfer. Besides, λET caused by remaining water availability in endmembers pixels was quantified using the Priestley-Taylor equation. We implemented the algorithm on Google Earth Engine, using freely available data. To evaluate our model, we used eddy covariance data from four sites in the Caatinga, the largest SDTF in South America, in the Brazilian semiarid region. Our results show that STEEP increased the accuracy of ET estimates without requiring any additional climatological information. This improvement is more pronounced during the dry season, which, in general, ET for these SDTF is overestimated by traditional SEB models, such as the Surface Energy Balance Algorithms for Land (SEBAL). The STEEP model had similar or superior behavior and performance statistics relative to global ET products (MOD16 and PMLv2). This work contributes to an improved understanding of the drivers and modulators of the energy and water balances at local and regional scales in SDTF.



Hydrology, Meteorology


Sensible heat flux, Aerodynamic resistance for heat transfer, surface energy balance, Caatinga, Google Earth Engine, Aerodynamic resistance for heat transfer, Surface energy balance, Caatinga, Google Earth Engine


Published: 2022-09-27 05:02

Last Updated: 2023-03-22 09:39

Older Versions

CC BY Attribution 4.0 International