Evapotranspiration determined using the energy-budget method at a semi-permanent prairie-pothole wetland in east-central North Dakota, USA was compared with 12 other commonly used methods. The Priestley-Taylor and deBruin-Keijman methods compared best with the energy-budget values; mean differences were less than 0.1 mm d−1, and standard deviations were less than 0.3 mm d−1. Both methods require measurement of air temperature, net radiation, and heat storage in the wetland water. The Penman, Jensen-Haise, and Brutsaert-Stricker methods provided the next-best values for evapotranspiration relative to the energy-budget method. The mass-transfer, deBruin, and Stephens-Stewart methods provided the worst comparisons; the mass-transfer and deBruin comparisons with energy-budget values indicated a large standard deviation, and the deBruin and Stephens-Stewart comparisons indicated a large bias. The Jensen-Haise method proved to be cost effective, providing relatively accurate comparisons with the energy-budget method (mean difference = 0.44 mm d−1, standard deviation = 0.42 mm d−1) and requiring only measurements of air temperature and solar radiation. The Mather (Thornthwaite) method is the simplest, requiring only measurement of air temperature, and it provided values that compared relatively well with energy-budget values (mean difference = 0.47 mm d−1, standard deviation = 0.56 mm d−1). Modifications were made to several of the methods to make them more suitable for use in prairie wetlands. The modified Makkink, Jensen-Haise, and Stephens-Stewart methods all provided results that were nearly as close to energy-budget values as were the Priestley-Taylor and deBruin-Keijman methods, and all three of these modified methods only require measurements of air temperature and solar radiation. The modified Hamon method provided values that were within 20 percent of energy-budget values during 95 percent of the comparison periods, and it only requires measurement of air temperature. The mass-transfer coefficient, associated with the commonly used mass-transfer method, varied seasonally, with the largest values occurring during summer.
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Vol. 24 • No. 3