Research Could Provide More Accurate Evaporation Estimates Of River

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced on Aug. 15 that a recent research project along the Rio Grande near Albuquerque, N.M., could lead to more accurate estimates of natural evaporation losses along the river; including a development that would lead to improved river modeling.

Researchers from Reclamation's Albuquerque Area Office are working with Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Iowa on the project. Researchers deployed the scanning Raman Light Distance and Ranging (LIDAR) laser earlier this month with cooperation from the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District and the Rio Grande State Park.

The Raman LIDAR system works by sending a laser beam into the air and recording how much light is reflected back from water molecules in the atmosphere.

The University of Utah also is assisting with soil evaporation measurements and micro-meteorology, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is assisting with instrumentation and data analysis.

The research will allow better management of the annual water supply by providing water managers with more accurate estimates of the natural evaporation depletion losses from the active channel surface flows and exposed soils. Evaporation from the river along with transpiration by the riparian and agricultural communities represents about two-thirds of the total losses from the system of surface water between Cochiti Reservoir and Elephant Butte Reservoir.

The research may be repeated again next year depending on need and available funding.

For additional information, contact Reclamation at

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