Assessment of evaporative water loss from Dutch cities

C.M.J. Jacobs, J.A. Elbers, R. Brolsma, O.K. Hartogensis, E.J. Moors, M.T. Rodríguez-CarreteroMárquez, B. van Hove

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Reliable estimates of evaporative water loss are required to assess the urban water budget in support of division of water resources among various needs, including heat mitigation measures in cities relying on evaporative cooling. We report on urban evaporative water loss from Arnhem and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, using eddy covariance, scintillometer and sapflow observations. Evaporation is assessed at daily to seasonal and annual timescale. For the summer half-year (April–September), observations from Arnhem and Rotterdam are consistent regarding magnitude and variability of evaporation that typically varies between 0.5 and 1.0 mm of evaporation per day. The mean daily evaporative cooling rate was 20–25 Wm-2, 11–14% of the average incoming solar radiation. Evaporation by trees related to sapflow was found to be a small term on the water budget at the city or neighbourhood scale. However, locally the contribution may be significant, given observed maxima of daily sap flows up to 170 l per tree. In Arnhem, evaporation is strongly linked with precipitation, possibly owing to building style. During the summer season, 60% of the precipitation evaporated again. In Rotterdam, the link between evaporation and precipitation is much weaker. An analysis of meteorological observations shows that estimation of urban evaporation from routine weather data using the concept of reference evaporation would be a particularly challenging task. City-scale evaporation may not scale with reference evaporation and the urban fabric results in strong microweather variability. Observations like the ones presented here can be used to evaluate and improve methods for routine urban evaporation estimates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-38
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • climatic change
  • temperature
  • urban areas
  • evaporation
  • water budget
  • rotterdam
  • veluwe
  • urban heat-island
  • energy-balance
  • large-aperture
  • evapotranspiration
  • exchange
  • surface
  • scintillometers
  • requirements
  • environments
  • manchester

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