Civil Engineering ETDs

Publication Date

Fall 11-12-2020


Satellite remote sensing (RS) techniques have revolutionized the study of spatial and temporal processes in environmental science and water resources engineering. This study was focused on advancing the understanding of RS techniques to provide estimates of spatial variability of surface water temperature and corresponding evaporation rates for open water.

Evaporation plays a crucial role in water budgets, which is critical knowledge for water management, especially in arid environments. However, there are few methods to estimate its spatial variability, which is relevant because water does not evaporate equally everywhere on a large waterbody. Hence, we cannot assume the calculations of evaporations extrapolated from a point-measurement represent an entire water body. Remote sensing technologies, such as satellite imagery, can provide a better sense of spatial heterogeneity of surface water temperatures, and hence evaporation rates.

Thermal-Infrared (TIR) sensors, provide the potential to estimate spatially varying evaporation rates from an entire water body. Several studies in the past have used TIR technologies to estimate evapotranspiration, but open-water evaporation has not been thoroughly studied. The goal of this study was to assess the applicability of TIR sensors for estimation surface water temperature and open-water evaporation rates at Cochiti Lake, New Mexico, USA. This was accomplished by comparing surface water temperature data derived from Landsat 8 imagery to in-situ measurements from a Collison Floating Evaporation Pan (CFEP). A regression approach was used to extrapolate evaporation measurements from the CFEP to the entire lake. The results indicate that these techniques hold the potential to advance knowledge of spatial variability of these variables, and hence, to improve the accuracy of water budgets for water resources management.


Evaporation, Landsat, remote sensing, temperature mapping, spatial variation

Document Type




Degree Name

Civil Engineering

Level of Degree


Department Name

Civil Engineering

First Committee Member (Chair)

Dr. Mark Stone

Second Committee Member

Dr. Jacob Collison

Third Committee Member

Dr. Christopher Lippitt

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Ricardo Gonzalez-Pinzon