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An Attempt to Close the Daytime Surface Energy Balance Using Spatially-Averaged Flux Measurements

Mauder, M., Desjardins, R.L., Pattey, E., Worth, D. (2010). An Attempt to Close the Daytime Surface Energy Balance Using Spatially-Averaged Flux Measurements, 136(2), 175-191.


Single-tower eddy-covariance measurements represent the complete surface flux of a scalar only under idealized conditions. Therefore, we often find an underestimation of energy fluxes expressed as a lack of energy balance closure at many sites. In this study, a multi-tower approach to measure atmospheric energy fluxes based on spatial averaging is evaluated and possible mechanisms causing a lack of energy balance closure are analysed, focussing on daytime data only. It is shown that the multi-tower technique is also unable to measure the entire flux for our site, likely because the assumption of horizontal homogeneity is violated. Heterogeneity-induced and buoyancy-driven quasi-stationary circulations are probably the dominant processes causing the underestimation of energy fluxes. A dependence of the energy balance residual on stability is found, with residuals close to zero for stable stratification, a maximum under unstable to near-neutral conditions and still relatively large residuals for stronger instability. Assuming the processes transporting energy and CO2 are similar, the implications on long-term CO2 flux measurements are analysed. Accordingly, the resulting selective systematic error of cumulative net ecosystem exchange estimates for agricultural regions such as ours can be of the order of more than 100%, since mainly the fluxes during periods of net CO2 uptake are underestimated while periods of net CO2 release are much less affected by this bias. Further investigations about this issue are highly warranted. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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