Modeling urban evapotranspiration using remote sensing, flux footprints, and artificial intelligence
As climate change progresses, urban areas are increasingly affected by water scarcity and the urban heat island effect. Evapotranspiration (ET) is a crucial component of urban greening initiatives of cities worldwide aimed at mitigating these issues. However, ET estimation methods in urban areas have so far been limited. An expanding number of flux towers in urban environments provide the opportunity to directly measure ET by the eddy covariance method. In this study, we present a novel approach to model urban ET by combining flux footprint modeling, remote sensing and geographic information system (GIS) data, and deep learning and machine learning techniques. This approach facilitates spatio-temporal extrapolation of ET at a half-hourly resolution; we tested this approach with a two-year dataset from two flux towers in Berlin, Germany. The benefit of integrating remote sensing and GIS data into models was investigated by testing four predictor scenarios. Two algorithms (1D convolutional neural networks (CNNs) and random forest (RF)) were compared. The best-performing models were then used to model ET values for the year 2019. The inclusion of GIS data extracted using flux footprints enhanced the predictive accuracy of models, particularly when meteorological data was more limited. The best-performing scenario (meteorological and GIS data) showed an RMSE of 0.0239 mm/h and R2 of 0.840 with RF and an RMSE of 0.0250 mm/h and a R2 of 0.824 with 1D CNN for the more vegetated site. The 2019 ET sum was substantially higher at the site surrounded by more urban greenery (366 mm) than at the inner-city site (223 mm), demonstrating the substantial influence of vegetation on the urban water cycle. The proposed method is highly promising for modeling ET in a heterogeneous urban environment and can support climate change mitigation initiatives of urban areas worldwide.
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Published in: The science of the total environment, 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.147293, Elsevier