The Campbell CSAT3 sonic anemometer is one of the most popular instruments for turbulence measurements in basic micrometeorological research and ecological applications. While measurement uncertainty has been characterized by field experiments and wind-tunnel studies in the past, there are conflicting estimates, which motivated us to conduct a numerical experiment using large-eddy simulation to evaluate the probe-induced flow distortion of the CSAT3 anemometer under controlled conditions, and with exact knowledge of the undisturbed flow. As opposed to wind-tunnel studies, we imposed oscillations in both the vertical and horizontal velocity components at the distinct frequencies and amplitudes found in typical turbulence spectra in the surface layer. The resulting flow-distortion errors for the standard deviations of the vertical velocity component range from 3 to 7%, and from 1 to 3% for the horizontal velocity component, depending on the azimuth angle. Themagnitude of these errors is almost independent of the frequency of wind speed fluctuations, provided the amplitude is typical for surface-layer turbulence. A comparison of the corrections for transducer shadowing proposed by both Kaimal et al. (Proc Dyn Flow Conf, 551–565, 1978) and Horst et al. (Boundary-Layer Meteorol 155:371–395, 2015) show that both methods compensate for a larger part of the observed error, but do not sufficiently account for the azimuth dependency. Further numerical simulations could be conducted in the future to characterize the flow distortion induced by other existing types of sonic anemometers for the purposes of optimizing their geometry.
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