Estimation of Monthly Evaporation from Lake Ashtabula in North Dakota, Orwell Lake in Minnesota, and Lake Traverse in Minnesota and South Dakota, 1931-2001

Reservoirs on tributaries of the Red River of the North provide water for Fargo and Grand Forks, N. Dak., and other cities along the river. Adequate estimates of evaporative losses from the reservoirs are needed to determine the total water supply in the Basin. Many equations could be used to estimate lake or reservoir evaporation. However, in addition to measurements of air temperature, the equations require measurements of net radiation, wind speed, and relative humidity. Evaporation and air temperature data from energy budget evaporation sites at Wetland P1 in North Dakota and at Williams Lake in Minnesota are available. Air temperature data collected from climate stations near Lake Ashtabula in North Dakota, from Orwell Lake in Minnesota, and from Lake Traverse in Minnesota and South Dakota also are available. Therefore, the combined data sets were used to estimate monthly evaporation from Lake Ashtabula, Orwell Lake, and Lake Traverse. Averaged monthly mean air temperatures determined for each reservoir study site were used to calculate monthly evaporation data sets for 1931-2001. Results from the procedure that estimates reservoir evaporation indicate that slight downward trends in annual evaporation occurred from 1931-2001. The trends may have been caused by the selected time period of the study, which began with the drought conditions in the mid 1930's and ended with the more wet conditions in the late 1990's. Average annual evaporation values for each reservoir for 19312001 correspond well with published average annual lake evaporation values for 1946-55.
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U.S. Geological Survey
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