PhD Thesis

Impact of time and spatial average on the energy balance closure

Doojdao Charuchittipan (08/2009-07/2013)

Support: Thomas Foken

Secondary circulations are large and relatively stationary eddies, which are caused by the surface heterogeneity and normally reside away from the ground. They are believed to be the cause of the energy balance closure problem at the earth’s surface, because their contribution to the turbulent fluxes is missed by a fixed eddycovariance tower measurement that has a typical averaging time of 30 minutes. In this thesis, data from the LITFASS-2003 experiment was used to investigate the impact of time and spatial averages on the energy balance closure. This data consisted of many observations over a large heterogeneous landscape that could generate secondary circulations; some of which might be still near the earth’s surface.

For the time average analysis, the averaging time was extended to increase the possibility that secondary circulations were picked up by the sensor. Two approaches, which were the modified ogive analysis and the block ensemble average, were applied to analyze the data from ground-based measurements. The modified ogive analysis requiring a steady state condition, could extend the averaging time up to a few hours and suggested that an averaging time of 30 minutes was still overall sufficient for the eddy-covariance measurement over low vegetation. The block ensemble average, on the contrary, did not require a steady state condition, but could extend the averaging time to several days. However, this approach could only improve the energy balance closure for some sites during specific periods, when secondary circulations existed in the vicinity of the sensor. Based on this approach, it was found that the near-surface secondary circulations mainly transported sensible heat, which led to an alternative energy balance correction by the buoyancy flux ratio approach, in which the attribution of the residual depended on the relative contribution of the sensible heat flux to the buoyancy flux. The fraction of the residual attributed to the sensible heat flux by this energy balance correction was larger than in the energy balance correction that preserved the Bowen ratio.

In the spatial average analysis, two energy balance correction approaches, the buoyancy flux ratio and the Bowen ratio approaches, were applied to the areaaveraged fluxes (composite fluxes) in order to include contribution from secondary circulations. These composite fluxes were aggregated from multiple ground-based measurements. The energy balance corrected fluxes were validated against the spatial average fluxes, which were measured by an aircraft and a large aperture scintillometer (LAS). In this validation, the backward Lagrangian footprint model was used to estimate the source area of the measurement. It was found that both energy balance correction approaches did improve the agreement between time and spatial averages fluxes. This suggested that the contribution from secondary circulations could be properly accounted by the energy balance correction.

All findings in this thesis, therefore, depict that secondary circulations significantly transport energy in the atmospheric surface layer. The energy balance correction, accomplished by using either the Bowen ratio approach or the buoyancy flux ratio approach, is necessary to estimate the actual vertical transport of energy at the earth’s surface.

last modified 2014-02-06