Water Balance Assignment | College Homework Help

A lot of people think that drought means a lack of precipitation.  However, precipitation is only part of the equation.  Another important aspect of what we need to consider is the natural loss of liquid water to the atmosphere, the processes known as evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration).  The higher the temperature, the higher the rate of evaporation in a particular area.

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Therefore, it is possible to have a drought in one region one year with a given amount of precipitation (35 inches) and do not have a drought the next year with less precipitation (30 inches).  This is caused by the latter year have a lower rate of evaporation due to lower temperatures.  For us to have a good understanding of the stresses that are placed on water resource it is necessary to have a good understanding of the hydro-climatic processes that are at work at different locations.

Here we are looking at the periods of surplus, water utilization, deficit, and recharge.  An analysis of this help indicates the severity of water needs in a particular area.  In the mid-latitudes, the winter season is generally associated with a surplus, when the soil is holding its capacity of water, partially due to low rates of evaporation.  Spring is associated with water utilization, where the water stored in the soil from winter is being used up, at least until there is no water left in storage.  Summer is associated with periods of the deficit, when there is no water in storage, due to a lack of precipitation and high evaporation rates. ]

The fall is associated with recharge, where moisture is being added to the soil due to declining levels of evaporation as the atmosphere begins to cool.  Below we are looking at 2 very different locations, Berkeley, California, which is in a fairly dry environment, with a winter-time precipitation maximum, and Terre Haute, Indiana, which has a peak of precipitation in the summer months.  Compare them for similarities and differences in their hydro-climatologic data.

A.    Study the attached table in Figure 1 of this Lab Exercise.  This represents the Water Budget of Berkeley, California.

B.    Using the Terre Haute, Indiana, data given below, complete a data tabulation of the average annual water budget of the area:




·        The data is in centimetres (cm)

·        The estimated soil moisture is at field capacity

·        In the data tabulation, complete one column at a time.  In this case, January serves as an acceptable starting point.

Consult the following web sites for information about water budgets and the following terminology:




P = PrecipitationChange in ST = change in 10.0 cm storage = Actual storage (somewhere between 0 and 10 cm, inclusive)AE = Actual Evapotranspiration (never greater than the Potential Evapotranspiration); evapotranspiration -> is the combined processes of evaporation and transpiration; the delivery of water to the atmosphere by vegetation and by direct evaporation from wet surfaces = Deficit (Will only occur when the soil has no moisture; ST = 0) -> PE = Potential Evapotranspiration (the higher the temperature the greater; this is the amount that would be lost with an unlimited supply of water)S = Surplus (will only occur at field capacity -> 10 cm -> soil is holding its maximum capacity of moisture

In terms of a water balance, we generally look at 4 stages of water usage:  surplus, usage, deficit and recharge.  We are making an assumption, for the basis of this exercise, that the maximum storage capacity of the soil (field capacity) is 10cm.  Using this value, a surplus can only occur when the soil is at field capacity in storage (10cm).  The usage occurs as the soil water storage is reduced from 10 cm to none.  A deficit will occur only when the soil has no water in storage.

Recharge occurs as water is being added to storage, and the values of storage are increasing from 0 to 10 cm.  Upon reaching 10cm, the soil will be back in a surplus situation.  In the mid-latitudes, the surplus is often associated with winter, usage with spring, the deficit with summer and recharge with the Fall.  One other assumption that we make here is that with the Berkeley data we are starting with 9.7 cm in storage at the beginning of the year and the Terre Haute starts off being at field capacity with a value of 10 cm of storage from the previous December. Get Geology homework help today

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