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Measurement and modelling of evaporation from a coastal wetland in Maputaland, South Africa

Author(s): A. D. Clulow | C. S. Everson | M. G. Mengistu | C. Jarmain | G. P. W. Jewitt | J. S. Price | P.-L. Grundling

Journal: Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
ISSN 1812-2108

Volume: 9;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 1741;
Date: 2012;
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The contribution of freshwater supply from the Mfabeni Mire to Lake St. Lucia during dry periods is important to the survival of certain plant and animal species in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. This freshwater supply is mainly dependent on the variability of the major components of the water balance, namely rainfall and total evaporation (ET). Attempts to quantify the water balance have been limited through uncertainties in quantifying ET from the Mfabeni Mire. Despite advances in evaporation measurement and modelling from wetlands, there still exists some doubt as to which methods are best suited to characterise wetland ET with most authors suggesting a combination of methods. In this study, the surface renewal (SR) method was successfully used to determine the long-term ET (12 months) from the Mfabeni Mire with calibration using eddy covariance during two window periods of approximately one week each. The SR method was found to be inexpensive, reliable and with low power requirements for unattended operation. The annual ET was lower (900 mm yr−1) than expected, due to cloud cover in summer and low atmospheric demand throughout the year, despite the available water and high windspeeds. Daily ET estimates were compared to the Priestley-Taylor results and a site specific calibration α = 1.0 was obtained for the site. The Priestley-Taylor results agreed well with the actual ET from the surface renewal technique (R2 = 0.96) throughout the 12 month period. A monthly crop factor (Kc) was determined for the standardised FAO-56 Penman-Monteith. However, Kc was variable in some months and should be used with caution for daily ET modelling. These results represent not only some of the first long-term measurements of ET from a wetland in Southern Africa, but also one of the few studies of actual ET in a subtropical peatland in the Southern Hemisphere. The study provides wetland ecologists and hydrologists with guidelines for the use of two internationally applied models for the estimation of wetland ET within a coastal, subtropical environment.

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