Lead Researcher: Christopher Neale, Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska

Industry Partner: LICOR

Abstract: The purpose of the Parallel 41 eddy covariance network is to provide real-time, quality controlled and processed crop and natural vegetation evapotranspiration, an important parameter for irrigation water management and water balance studies in watersheds and groundwater recharge estimations. The network was being partially established with 2018 first-year funding from the IIC with 7 towers located in Iowa (2), Nebraska (4) and Colorado (1). 2019 funding facilitated 2 additional towers being added, one in Iowa and one in Kansas. The eddy covariance flux towers are networked together using the new LICOR FluxSuite software app and SmartFlux hardware installed at each tower, for real-time processing and corrections. The real-time evapotranspiration data is used to anchor satellite-based estimates of evapotranspiration using energy balance modeling approaches, allowing the distribution of the real-time estimates to multiple irrigated fields and watersheds. This project is producing a reliable satellite-based spatial product free for use by water managers, farmers, and irrigators in participating states through a website and eventually a cell phone app.

Background: This multi-year project created a network of eddy covariance flux towers in the gradient of precipitation across the 41st parallel north in the United States, that measure evapotranspiration in real-time and serving to ground truth data for remote sensing sources.