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On the use of the term ‘Evapotranspiration’
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  • Diego G. Miralles,
  • Wilfried Brutsaert,
  • A. J. Dolman,
  • John H. Gash
Diego G. Miralles
Ghent University

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Wilfried Brutsaert
Cornell University
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A. J. Dolman
VU University Amsterdam
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John H. Gash
University of Lisbon
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Evaporation is the phenomenon by which a substance is converted from its liquid into its vapor phase, independently of where it lies in nature. However, language is alive, and just like regular speech, scientific terminology changes. Frequently those changes are grounded on a solid rationale; but sometimes these semantic transitions have a fragile foundation. That is the case with ‘evapotranspiration’. A growing generation of scientists have been educated on using this terminology, and are unaware of the historical controversy and physical inconsistency that surrounds it. Here, we present what may appear to some as an esoteric linguistic discussion, yet it is triggered by the increasing time some of us have devoted to justifying our word choice to reviewers, editors and peers. By clarifying our arguments for using the term ‘evaporation’, we seek to prevent having to revive this discussion every time a new article is submitted, so that we can move directly on to more scientifically relevant matters.
Nov 2020Published in Water Resources Research volume 56 issue 11. 10.1029/2020WR028055