Abstract

Developing a methodology for water balance estimation is a significant challenge, especially in areas with little or no gauging. This is because direct measurements of all the water balance components are not feasible. To overcome this issue, we propose a simple methodology based on the predefined empirical relationship between remotely sensed evapotranspiration (ET), i.e. Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) ET and groundwater recharge (GR), and readily available precipitation data at the monthly time step. The developed methodology was applied in seven catchments in NE Greece using time series of precipitation and remotely sensed ET from 2009 to 2019. The potential of the proposed method to accurately estimate the water balance was assessed by the comparison of the individual water balance components against modeled values. Three performance metrics were examined and indicated that the methodology produces a satisfactory outcome. Our results indicated mean ET accounting for approximately 54% of precipitation, mean GR of 24% and mean surface runoff approximately 22% of precipitation in the study area. The proposed approach was implemented using freely available remotely sensed products and the free R software for statistical computing and graphics, offering thus a convenient and inexpensive alternative for water balance estimation, even for basins with limited data availability.

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