The energy side of Budyko: surface-energy partitioning from hydrological observations

Jun Yin, Salvatore Calabrese, Edoardo Daly, Amilcare Porporato

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Land-surface partitioning of net radiation into sensible and latent heat fluxes is critical for hydroclimatic processes but remains highly uncertain due to limited observations. We show that a suitable extension of the Budyko's curve, a well-known framework in hydrology for water balance estimation, can be utilized effectively to partition the surface energy fluxes by expressing the long-term evaporative fraction (EF) as a function of the dryness index only. The combination of this energy partitioning method with hydrological observations allows us to estimate the surface energy components at watershed and continental scales. Using this new framework, we show that North American Regional Reanalysis data overestimate surface evaporation, likely influencing the modeling of atmospheric convection. The obtained hydrologic constrains on energy partitioning can be used to provide more accurate estimations of surface energy fluxes for hydroclimatic predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7456-7463
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2019


  • Budyko's curve
  • Budyko's energy curve
  • hydrological observations
  • NARR
  • surface energy partitioning

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