PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (9): 1159-1170.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2018.09.001

• Reviews •     Next Articles

A review of the White method for the estimation of evapotranspiration from phreatophytes in arid areas

Ping WANG1,*(), Xuejing ZHANG1,2, Tianye WANG1,2, Sergey P POZDNIAKOV3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Water Cycle and Related Land Surface Processes, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
    3. Department of Hydrogeology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow 119991, Russia
  • Received:2018-03-29 Revised:2018-06-25 Online:2018-09-28 Published:2018-09-28
  • Contact: Ping WANG
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671023, No.41371059, No.41571029;National Natural Science Foundation of China and Russian Foundation for Basic Research Programme, No.41811530084, No.18-55-53025 ГФЕН_а


Diurnal water table fluctuation is considered the evidence and indicator of groundwater evapotranspiration by phreatophytes in arid areas. Based on the relationship between plant evapotranspiration and diurnal water table fluctuation, White proposed an analytical solution for estimating evapotranspiration rates using groundwater level monitoring data, i.e., the White method. Due to its simplicity and limited data requirements, this method has been widely used to estimate plant evapotranspiration in riparian zones of arid areas. In this article, we first introduced the fundamentals and four assumptions of the White method, and uncertainties that are involved in its application. Then, we reviewed the recent developments in the method, and discussed the main characteristics, limitations, and shortcomings of each modification; on this basis, the principle of further improvement of the White method is proposed. At present, combined with multi-scale observation and simulation of land surface evapotranspiration, the White method can be used not only to estimate regional scale groundwater evapotranspiration, but also to provide a reference for investigating water sources for plant use in arid regions.

Key words: arid area, groundwater-dependent ecosystem, evapotranspiration, water table fluctuation method, specific yield