Filling the Biggest Data Gap in Water Management

OpenET uses best available science to provide easily accessible satellite-based estimates of evapotranspiration (ET) for improved water management across the western United States.

Developed through a unique public-private partnership, the OpenET platform will make satellite-based data on evapotranspiration -- a key water metric -- widely accessible to farmers, landowners, and water managers.
OpenET aims to provide open, easily accessible satellite-based ET data for improved water management.

What is Evapotranspiration (ET)?

ET is the process by which water is transferred from the land to the atmosphere. It includes both evaporation from the land and transpiration from plants. ET is a core driver of the Earth’s water cycle, returning water to the atmosphere to fall again as precipitation. For irrigated agricultural fields, ET is a beneficial use of water that is necessary for plant growth and food production.

Why is OpenET needed?

Reliable, trusted and widely available ET data at the field scale can be used to:
  • Expand ET-based irrigation practices that maximize “crop per drop” and reduce costs for fertilizer and water.
  • Develop more accurate water budgets and innovative management programs that ensure adequate supplies of water for agriculture, people and ecosystems.
  • Support trading programs that protect the financial viability of farms during droughts while ensuring that water is also available for other beneficial uses.
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ET Information
Comparability and Trust
With OpenET

Introducing OpenET:

A Tool for Effective Water Management

Using publicly available data from multiple satellites and weather stations, OpenET will bring together an ensemble of well-established methods to calculate ET on a single platform. This approach will … (rest as is:) ensure data continuity, help and refine the strengths and accuracy of the methods, and create a well-documented, shared basis for decision-making that truly represents the best available science.

Improved access to evapotranspiration data will support water conservation and management

OpenET is scheduled to launch in 2021.

Project Team

The project team includes leading national and international experts in remote sensing of ET, cloud computing, water policy, and water markets, partnered with nationally recognized web development teams and leaders in the western agriculture and water management communities. Development of OpenET is supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; the Walton Family Foundation; the Windward Fund; and the NASA Applied Science Program. In-kind support is provided by Google Earth Engine and the Water Funder Initiative.

Dr. Maurice Hall
Associate Vice President of EDF’s Water Program
Environmental Defense Fund
Maurice advises on the overall strategy and implementation of the project, with a focus on building support among agencies, policy makers and potential end users. Maurice has more than 25 years of experience in water resources management and policy, with particular emphasis in agricultural water use and groundwater management. Maurice’s work has included consulting for urban and agricultural water agencies, serving in various water science and policy roles for global non-profit organizations, and serving as the water program lead for the Water Funder Initiative, a collaborative effort to identify and activate promising water solutions through strategic philanthropic investments in the U.S., starting in the American West, where the scarcity and reliability of clean water are urgent issues. (PhD, Earth Resources, Watershed Sciences, Colorado State University; BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Tennessee Chattanooga)
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Dr. Robyn Grimm
Senior Manager
Water Information Systems
Environmental Defense Fund
Robyn serves as Project Manager and leads on the ground implementation with project partners, coordination among project teams, and development of key reports and publications. Robyn has over 10 years of experience working with large and diverse teams on statewide water management and policy, including levee policy for the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta, multi-objective management for the Yolo Bypass and other Central Valley floodplains, and financing for water management in California. She has expertise in multi-benefit decision support and analysis, and in operations and systems research, including multi-objective optimization and trade-off analysis. (PhD, Hydrologic Sciences, University of California, Davis; MA, Physical Geography, University of California, Davis; BA, Economics and Political Science, University of California, Los Angeles)
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Forrest Melton
Senior Research Scientist
NASA / CSU Monterey Bay
Forrest serves as the technical lead for the project along with Justin Huntington. Forrest and Justin lead the design of the overall architecture and API for the Open ET platform and Forrest serves as the primary coordinator of the ET modeling teams. Forrest has 15 years of experience developing applications of satellite data to address resource management challenges, and has received honor awards from NASA, CDWR and the Federal Labs Consortium for his work to develop applications of satellite data for water managers and agricultural producers in California. Forrest also serves as an Associate Program Manager for Water Resources with the NASA Applied Sciences Program and will coordinate the project activities with NASA funded projects, as well as NASA partnerships with other federal agencies. (MS, Earth Systems, Stanford University; BS Earth Systems, Stanford University)
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Dr. Justin Huntington
Research Professor
Desert Research Institute
Justin serves as the second technical lead for the project. Justin co-leads coordination and technical support for ET software development, implementation,and testing. He leads efforts to obtain, provide, and communicate technical information to project partners and interested stakeholders. Dr. Huntington and his team have extensive background in satellite based ET modeling, engaging with agriculture and water end users, and developing web applications that utilizeGoogle Earth Engine (e.g., Huntington et al., 2017; EEFlux, Allen et al., 2015) for global on-demand processing and visualization of satellite and climate data. Dr. Huntington is currently partnering with nine western U.S. state water resource agencies to enhance and apply ET data. (PhD and MS, Hydrology, University of Nevada Reno; BS, Environmental Science, University of Nevada, Reno)
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Dr. Tyler A. Erickson
Senior Developer Advocate
In this role, Tyler fosters collaborations with researchers from academia, NGO’s, and governmental organizations seeking to capitalize on Earth Engine’s capabilities for geospatial analyses that involve immense satellite and model-based datasets. Dr. Erickson leads the development of Earth Engine’s core efforts in water and climate, and guides the evolution of Earth Engine to support these scientific domains. A snow hydrologist by training, he has degrees civil and environmental engineering and geography degrees from Colorado State University, CalTech, Stanford, and the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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Dr. Jamie Herring
Jamie has been the executive digital producer for a variety of environmental information products with clients ranging from large multi-lateral institutions such as the World Bank, government agencies such as NOAA, large foundations such as the Gates Foundations, and non-profit organizations such as the World Resources Institute. For this project, Jamie will be lead digital producer for the OpenET data portal. Jamie holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Information Sciences from Cornell University.
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Lee Johnson
Senior Research Scientist
NASA/CSU Monterey Bay
Lee is a Senior Research Scientist and adjunct faculty member in the College of Science at CSU Monterey Bay, and is stationed in the Earth Science Division of NASA Ames through the ARC-CREST agreement. He has over 20 years of experience in development of remote sensing for agricultural applications including ET estimation, and has published over 35 peer-reviewed journal articles, and four technical book chapters. He has served as Principal- or Co-Investigator for research grants from NASA’s Applied Sciences Program, California Dept. Water Resources, California Dept. Food & Agriculture, and USDA. As a SIMS co-developer, he will support model intercomparison analysis and work with team members to evaluate agreement and uncertainty in the OpenET model ensemble. (MA, Geography, UC Santa Barbara; BA, Geography and Economics, UCLA)
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Alberto Guzman
Senior Software Engineer
NASA/CSU Monterey Bay
Alberto supports work on implementation of the OpenET framework on Earth Engine. He will serve as one of the two primary software engineering leads on the API and a primary contact for development of the front-end design of OpenET.
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Charles Morton
Assistant Research Scientist
Desert Research Institute
Charles leads multi-model software engineering and development, supports ET modeling teams with Google Earth Engine API programming, and co-develops back-end/front-end linkages. Charles is co-developer of the automated METRIC ET model, and EEFlux and Earth Engine applications (e.g., Morton et al., 2013; Allen et al., 2015; Huntington et al., 2017). (MS, Geography, University of Nevada Reno; BS, Mechanical Engineering, University of Nevada, Reno)
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Jordan Harding
Chief Technology Officer
Jordan is the Chief Technology Officer at HabitatSeven where he leads innovation in the areas of big data delivery and visualization. Jordan has worked in this capacity for a number of earth observation data and delivery projects for a wide range of organizations in both the private and public sectors. This includes data delivery and visualizations for Underwriters Laboratories, NOAA, the World Bank, NASA, the United Nations, the World Resources Institute, and others. Jordan will help guide and develop the mapping and data systems for OpenET.
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Dr. Britta Daudert
Assistant Research Scientist of Climatology
Desert Research Institute
Britta leads development of the OpenET back-end data queries and time series tools in close coordination algorithms teams. Britta has extensive experience developing web-based climate and environmental data dissemination tools focused on end-user needs and usability (e.g. Oakley and Daudert, 2016; Huntington et al., 2017). (PhD, Mathematics, University of California, Riverside; MS, Mathematics, University of California, Riverside, BS, Mathematics & Physics, University of Ireland, Maynooth Kildare)
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Jody Hansen
Assistant Research Scientist, Web Application Developer
Desert Research Institute
Bio Coming Soon
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Dr. Martha Anderson
Research Physical Scientist
USDA Agricultural Research Service
Martha conducts research on mapping water, energy, and carbon land-surface fluxes at field to continental scales using thermal remote sensing, with applications in drought monitoring and yield estimation. She is currently a member of the Landsat and ECOSTRESS Science Teams and the HyspIRI Science Working Group. Her participation on the team represents an in-kind contribution to the project with support from NASA. (PhD, Astrophysics, University of Minnesota; BA, Physics, Carleton College)
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Dr. Mitchell Schull
Post-Doctoral Associate
University of Maryland
Mitchell is currently working to implement the ALEXI/DisALEXI modeling framework into an open-source environment for further collaboration with global stakeholders. He conducts research in radiative transfer in vegetation and thermal infrared remote sensing with applications in surface energy balance and carbon flux modeling. Dr. Schull played a role in the development of the carbon flux component of the Two-Source Energy Balance (TSEB) and its subsequent implementation into the DisAggregated Atmosphere Land Exchange Inverse (DisALEXI) model while at the USDA-ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Lab. TSEB is the basis land-surface energy balance model used in DisALEXI and ALEXI which are currently used to monitor evapotranspiration, soil moisture and drought at continental to field scales. (Ph.D., Geography and Environment, Boston University; B.S., Geography, University of North Dakota)
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Dr. Christopher Hain
Research Scientist
Christopher is interested in thermal infrared remote sensing with applications in surface energy balance modeling, soil moisture retrieval, hydrologic data assimilation and drought monitoring. He has played a significant role in the development of the Atmosphere Land Exchange Inverse (ALEXI) model in ongoing collaboration with scientists at the USDA-ARS Hydrology and Remote Sensing Lab; ALEXI is currently used to monitor continental evapotranspiration, soil moisture, and drought. Before joining NASA, he was an Assistant Research Scientist for the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) at the University of Maryland, College Park. (Ph.D., Atmospheric Science; M.S., University of Alabama Huntsville; B.S., Meteorology, Millersville University)
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Dr. Mutlu Ozdogon
Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Mutlu is currently developing field-level crop type and yield estimates from remotely sensed observations that will then be merged with satellite-derived evapotranspiration to get water productivity quantities. His work focuses on agricultural remote sensing including crop type, irrigated area and yield estimation as well as quantifying the effects of large-scale irrigation on environment variables. He is actively collaborating with NASA, USDA, USAID and international scientists to develop field scale ET estimation capabilities over large areas using cloud computing. Before joining faculty at UW-Madison, Dr. Ozdogon was a postdoctoral scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. (Ph.D., Geography, Boston University; M.S., North Carolina State University; B.Eng., Istanbul University)
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Dr. Gabriel Senay
Research Physical Scientist
Gabriel has developed the SSEBop model along with his team at EROS. The cloud implementation of the SSEBop will be coordinated in collaboration with teams at DRI. He specializes in developing agro-hydrologic models for assessing and monitoring regional water balances, agricultural performance and large-scale drought monitoring. His crop monitoring products are used for decision-making in a wide variety of agencies including USAID, USDA, the World Food Program and the World Bank. (Ph.D. Agricultural Engineering, Ohio State University; M.S. Hydrology, Wageningen University (Netherlands); B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from Alemaya University (Ethiopia)
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Dr. Wim Bastiaanssen
Professor of Global Water Accounting
Delft University of Technology
Wim will serve as team coordinator for the SEBAL team, and will assist with the input of data specifications, and on a seamless transition between 100 and 30 meter ET data. Wim is an expert in earth observation technologies for soil physical, land surface, hydrological and atmospheric processes, with a specialization in river basin and agricultural water management. He has extensive experience in irrigation hydrology at field and regional scales. He developed the Surface Energy Balance Algorithm for Land (SEBAL), an image-processing model that maps evapotranspiration, biomass growth, water deficit and soil moisture. (Ph.D., Eco-hydrology, Soil Physics and Groundwater Management, Wageningen Agricultural University; B.S., Tropical Land and Water Management Engineering, Van Hall - Larenstein, Velp)
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Tim Hessels
Civil Engineer
Delft University of Technology
Tim will provide software support the conversion of pySEBAL to EESEBAL. Tim is the primary hydrological programmer of the water accounting team at UNESCO-IHE, and the primary python programmer for SEBAL. Tim develops python scripts for downloading of open access spatial data sets and water accounting computations. (M.S., Water Management, Delft University of Technology; B.S., Civil Engineering, Delft University of Technology)
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Dr. Joshua Fisher
Joshua is the developer of the PT-JPL evapotranspiration model. PT-JPL is a leading global-scale remote sensing ET models, and forms the core algorithm of the upcoming NASA ECOSTRESS mission, focused on ET. Dr. Fisher’s team has different operational versions of PT-JPL—one for ECOSTRESS, and another for an application with the State of New Mexico. These systems will be extended to support OpenET. Additional technical support in Dr. Fisher’s team for PT-JPL comes from Gregory Halverson of CSUN. (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley; B.S., University of California, Berkeley
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Aleix Serrat-Capdevila
Senior Water Resources Management Specialist
The World Bank
Aleix leads the Global Initiative on Remote Sensing for Water Resources Management at the World Bank’s Water Practice, funded by the Global Water Security & Sanitation Partnership. The initiative focuses on bringing innovative remote sensing applications into World Bank projects and foreign government agencies, working to make them operational, and producing knowledge for sustainable implementation. Given the need for field-level ET estimation in many of the projects he is working on, Aleix provides strategic support and coordinates synergies with ongoing World Bank efforts in irrigation districts in Mexico and other countries. While he did publish some papers on evapotranspiration while at the University of Arizona, his strength lies on 18 years of international experience working across academia, government and development sectors. (MS & PhD in Hydrology, minor in Anthropology, The University of Arizona)
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Philip Blankenau
Research Engineer
University of Nebraska – Lincoln, School of Natural Resources
Philip is a member of the OpenET METRIC model development team. He is a co-developer of the EEFlux model and will aid in adapting it to serve as the operational OpenET METRIC model. He specializes in python programming and is experienced using the Google Earth Engine API. (MS, Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska - Lincoln; BS, Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska - Lincoln)
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Dr. Richard G. Allen
Professor of Water Resources Engineering
University of Idaho
Rick is involved with the development of the OpenET METRIC application and its implementation and testing. He has been a co-leader for the development of the Google EEFlux version of METRIC over the past eight years His research team at UI developed the METRIC process beginning in 1999. Rick was a member of the NASA/USGS Landsat Science Team from 2007-2017 and is a member of the NASA ECOSTRESS Science Team. Rick was lead author of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization publication "Crop Evapotranspiration" that serves as an international practice standard. He was coeditor of the American Society of Civil Engineers Practices Manual 70 “Evapotranspiration and Irrigation Water Requirements” published in 1990 and 2016. (B.S., M.S. in Agricultural Engineering from Iowa State University and University of Idaho, Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, University of Idaho)
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Peter ReVelle
Remote Sensing Specialist
University of Idaho and University of Nebraska – Lincoln
Peter is a member of the OpenET METRIC model team. He has assisted with development of the Google EEFlux model. He has experience working with large gridded datasets, using the Google Earth Engine API and manually running METRIC in flat and mixed terrain environments. He has co-developed a methodology for adjusting Reference ET for mountainous terrain by applying topographic-assisted adjustments that include accounting for the effects of slope, aspect, and shading on solar radiation. Peter specializes in geospatial data analysis, scientific programming with Python and data-driven modeling. (MS, Hydrology, New Mexico Tech; BS, Environmental Science, New Mexico Tech)
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Dr. Ayse Kilic
School of Natural Resources and Department of Civil Engineering University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Ayse is involved with the development of the OpenET METRIC application and its implementation and testing. She has been a co-leader for the development of the Google EEFlux version of METRIC over the past eight years Ayse’s research develops and evolves procedures for applying satellite-based ET to improve management of ground-water and surface water systems. Ayse was a member of the national Landsat Science Team from 2012-2017, a member of the NASA Energy and Water Cycle Science Team, and is a current member of the NASA ECOSTRESSS Science Team. She has helped develop specifications for thermal imagers on future Landsat satellites and created the Google GEARUP App for mapping and conserving water in residential and agricultural landscapes on the Google Earth Engine. Dr. Kilic teaches university courses in Surface Hydrology, GIS in Water Resources, GIS and Remote Sensing in Natural Resources, and Python Programming in Natural and Water Resources. (M.S., Ph.D. Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Florida).
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Mac Friedrichs
Remote Sensing Scientist
Mac is a member of the OpenET model development team and supports implementation of the SSEBop model on Earth Engine. He works with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Center building next-generation National Water Use and Availability products using remote sensing observations with high performance cloud computing capabilities.
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