The use of the scintillation technique for monitoring seasonal water consumption of olive orchards in a semi-arid region

J. Ezzahar, A. Chehbouni, J.C.B. Hoedjes, S. Er-Raki, G. Boulet, J.M. Bonnefonds, H.A.R. de Bruin

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63 Citations (Scopus)


To monitor seasonal water consumption of agricultural fields at large scale, spatially averaged surface fluxes of sensible heat (H) and latent heat (LvE) are required. The scintillation method is shown to be a promising device for obtaining the area-averaged sensible heat fluxes, on a scale of up to 10 km. These fluxes, when combined with a simple available energy model, can be used to derive area-averaged latent heat fluxes. For this purpose, a Large Aperture Scintillometer (LAS) was operated continuously for more than one year over a tall and sparse irrigated oliveyard located in south-central Marrakesh (Morocco). Due to the flood irrigation method used in the site, which induces irregular pattern of soil moisture both in space and time, the comparison between scintillometer-based estimates of daily sensible heat flux (HLAS) and those measured by the classical eddy covariance (EC) method (HEC) showed a large scatter during the irrigation events, while a good correspondence was found during homogenous conditions (dry conditions and days following the rain events). We found, that combining a simple available energy model and the LAS measurements, the latent heat can be reliably predicted at large scale in spite of the large scatter (R2 = 0.72 and RMSE = 18.25 W m¿2) that is obtained when comparing the LAS against the EC. This scatter is explained by different factors: the difference in terms of the source areas of the LAS and EC, the closure failure of the energy balance of the EC, and the error in available energy estimates. Additionally, the irrigation efficiency was investigated by comparing measured seasonal evapotranspiration values to those recommended by the FAO. It was found that the visual observation of the physical conditions of the plant is not sufficient to efficiently manage the irrigation, a large quantity of water is lost (¿37% of total irrigation). Consequently, the LAS can be considered as a potentially useful tool to monitor the water consumption in complex conditions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-184
JournalAgricultural Water Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • large-aperture scintillometer
  • flevoland field experiment
  • long-wave-radiation
  • refractive-index
  • heterogeneous surface
  • flux measurements
  • sonic anemometer
  • energy fluxes
  • heat
  • area


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