Evaporation in the Atacama Desert

Felipe Lobos Roco

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Understanding evaporation in arid regions is essential for climate change assessment and optimizing water resources management under a changing climate. This thesis analyses the physical processes that govern local evaporation in a representative salt flat setting at the Altiplano region of the Atacama Desert. Such physical processes are analyzed from climatic to sub-diurnal scales. Moreover, regional (>100 km) to local (<1 km) scales are integrated, through the analysis of the ocean-desert circulation and its influences on the atmospheric boundary layer and surface fluxes. Firstly, findings show that wind-driven turbulence is the primary evaporation controller at the sub-diurnal scale, whereas radiation plays a major role at the seasonal scale. Secondly, at the local scale, surface fluxes are mainly controlled by mechanical turbulence, which is only present in the afternoon due to a regional-scale flow resulting from the thermal contrast between the cool Pacific Ocean and the warm Atacama Desert. Thirdly, the regional flow that triggers evaporation in the Altiplano origins from the marine boundary layer, whose stability regime dominates the formation of fog and the inland moisture transport. Finally, the role of surface heterogeneity on turbulent fluxes measurements is quantified at the sub-kilometer scale, where footprint and MOST functions play an important role. This thesis contributes to untangling and linking processes driving evaporation from local to regional-scale and from sub-diurnal to inter-annual scale, across confined saline lakes in arid regions.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Vila-Guerau de Arellano, Jordi, Promotor
  • Hartogensis, Oscar, Co-promotor
  • Suárez Poch, F., Co-promotor, External person
Award date29 Mar 2022
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789464471168
Publication statusPublished - 29 Mar 2022


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