Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Hydrologic Sciences



Major Advisor

Shawn Benner, Ph.D.


Alejandro N. Flores, Ph.D.


Jodi Brandt, Ph.D.


Kendra E. Kaiser, Ph.D.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


Agricultural areas within the western U.S. are undergoing rapid urbanization due to population growth. Urban expansion often forces the conversion of adjacent agricultural areas altering the landscape vegetation and associated water consumption through evapotranspiration (ET). The associated difference in ET may alter the landscape water demand complicating water resource management. To investigate these differences, we calculated the agricultural and urban seasonal ET rates in a semiarid watershed currently undergoing large population growth and rapid urbanization. We used high resolution satellite imagery with a GIS computer model to generate basin-wide ET estimates over a 204-day irrigation season. Six land type samples (three agriculture and three urban) were analyzed to compare individual spatial and temporal variations of ET throughout the irrigation season. The agricultural areas exhibited more fluctuation in seasonality and magnitude of ET than the urban areas throughout the irrigation season. We found the average ET (mm acre-1) of the total urban land was 20% less than the total agricultural land within the study area. This is higher than expected due to the urban areas having much less average vegetation per acre. Within the land type samples, some urban landscapes show upwards of 20% more ET (mm acre-1) than adjacent agricultural land. These results indicate the difference in total ET between urban and agricultural areas is contingent on the specific vegetation phenology. As urbanization and land development continues, we suggest future needs for irrigation water incorporate current and projected landscape vegetation type, seasonal phenology, and spatial coverage.



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