Evapotranspiration (ET) is a term used to describe the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth's land surface to atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and waterbodies. Transpiration accounts for the movement of water within a plant and the subsequent loss of water as vapor through stomata in its leaves. Evapotranspiration is an important part of the water cycle. An element (such as a tree) that contributes to evapotranspiration can be called an evapotranspirator.
Potential or reference evapotranspiration (PET or ETo) is a representation of the environmental demand for evapotranspiration and represents the evapotranspiration rate of a short green crop (grass or alfalfa), completely shading the ground, of uniform height and with adequate water status in the soil profile. It is a reflection of the energy available to evaporate water, and of the wind available to transport the water vapour from the ground up into the lower atmosphere. Evapotranspiration is said to equal potential evapotranspiration when there is ample water.
The reference evaportranspiration is calculated with the corrected Penmann-Monteith method described in FAO paper no 56. This feature is an implementation of that method.