Climatic Change

, 97:193 | Cite as

A critical overview of pan evaporation trends over the last 50 years

  • Guobin Fu
  • Stephen P. Charles
  • Jingjie Yu


Despite the observed increases in global average temperature, observations across the world show that the rate of pan evaporation at a regional scale has been steadily decreasing over the past 50 years. This is known as the pan evaporation paradox. This paper reviews current reported pan evaporation trends, examines available theoretical explanations about this “paradox”, and discusses current research gaps and priorities. It concludes that: (1) three major potential causes of pan evaporation, solar radiation, vapour pressure deficit (VPD) and wind speed, have been changing in the last 50 years. The magnitude of changes and importance of each of these three causes varies from region to region, as does the pan evaporation trend, although overall there is a decreasing trend. (2) Currently two existing theories explaining the pan evaporation trends have limits and are only valid in some specific regions and seasons. Neither of them provides a fundamental physical-based theory that could be applied everywhere. (3) Further investigations are needed before we can fully understand the global evapotranspiration trend in global warming scenarios.


Wind Speed Yellow River Basin Former Soviet Union Actual Evaporation Automate Observation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CSIRO Land and WaterPerthAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Geographical Sciences and Natural Resources ResearchChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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