Terrestrial ET includes evaporation from wet and moist soil, from rain water intercepted by the canopy before it reaches the ground, and the transpiration through stomata on plant leaves and stems. Evaporation of water intercepted by the canopy is a very important water flux for ecosystems with a high LAI. Canopy conductance for plant transpiration is calculated by using LAI to scale stomatal conductance up to canopy level.
The MODIS MOD16 global evapotranspiration product can be used to calculate regional water and energy balance, soil water status; hence, it provides key information for water resource management. With long-term ET data, the effects of changes in climate, land use, and ecosystems disturbances (e.g. wildfires and insect outbreaks) on regional water resources and land surface energy change can be quantified.
The MOD16 ET datasets are estimated using Mu et al.'s improved ET algorithm (2011) over previous Mu et al.'s paper (2007a). The ET algorithm is based on the Penman-Monteith equation (Monteith, 1965). Surface resistance is an effective resistance to evaporation from land surface and transpiration from the plant canopy.
The Collection 6 8-day Level-4 global evapotranspiration (ET)/latent heat flux (LE)/potential ET (PET)/potential LE (PLE) datasets produced at 500m spatial resolution are regular land surface ET datasets for the 109.03M square kilometer global vegetated land areas at monthly and annual intervals. The dataset covers the time period 2000-2010. Future years will be produced and posted periodically, but not in near-real time.
For more information see the MODIS Global Evapotranspiration Project (MOD16) page at the University of Montana's NTSG web site.