GOES Solar Radiation for Evapotranspiration Estimation and Streamflow Prediction


This study explores the value of incoming solar radiation estimates derived from geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES) as an alternative solar radiation data source to historical solar radiation estimates for use in rainfall–runoff simulations. At 26 sites in the United States, the GOES-based solar radiation (R2=0.79) and ETp(R2=0.94) estimates agreed well with the ground-based estimates. There was a slight positive bias for the GOES-based solar radiation (5.4%) and potential evapotranspiration (8.7%) estimates compared to the ground-based estimates, with the strong and significant biases noted during the warm seasons. However, individual stations biases ranged from −12 to 27%. Daily streamflow predictions made using National Weather Service River Forecast System’s Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting rainfall–runoff model for four NOAA Distributed Model Intercomparison Project watersheds show that although notable peak storm flow differences occurred occasionally during extended drying periods, on average, the GOES-based potential evapotranspiration estimates slightly outperformed the simulations using ground-based data on an annual basis and were relatively insensitive to biases. However, on seasonal time scales, differences in soil water storage are evident and can result in numerous moderate differences in streamflow predictions.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal Title

Journal of Hydrologic Engineering


American Society of Civil Engineers

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© 2009 ASCE