PhD Thesis

Detection and analysis of coherent structures within and above tall-vegetated canopies

Christoph Thomas (02/2002-06/2005)

Support: Thomas Foken

Coherent structures are an inherent phenomenon of the atmospheric turbulent flow in the proximity to tall-vegetated canopies. Although coherent structures have called increasing attention of the turbulence community during the past decades, the basic mechanisms of their emergence, their contributions to exchange processes and their importance for conventional flux determination methods remain poorly understood or even unknown. In particular, no studies have been published yet dealing with long-term observations rather than exemplary case studies using short-term data. This dissertation aims at the enhanced understanding of the driving mechanisms and statistical properties of coherent structures within and above tallvegetated canopies through an extensive analysis using long-term observations. Thereby, it places a specific emphasis on the implications of coherent structures for exchange processes and assesses their impact on conventional flux determination methods such as the eddy covariance and relaxed eddy accumulation techniques. Data were mainly obtained using tower-based single-point turbulence measurements and acoustic remote sensing technique (Sodar-Rass) during extensive field campaigns conducted in summer 2003.

The developed wavelet software tool for detection and analysis of coherent structures is verified to extract coherent structures objectively under varying environmental conditions and thus allows determining their statistics in long-term datasets. In the proximity to the plant canopy, the temporal scales of coherent structures typically range between 20 s and 35 s. The temporal scales of coherent structures in the horizontal wind velocity, the sonic temperature and the concentration of carbon dioxide and water vapour exceed those of the vertical wind velocity. Within the canopy, the temporal scales of all vector and scalar variables collapse at approx. 24 s to 28 s resulting in an enhanced symmetry. Besides this, coherent structures with temporal scales up to 220 s are evidenced well above the canopy with the aid of acoustic remote sensing. The application of the canopy mixing-layer analogy to the data partially yields departures of the ratio m between the streamwise structures spacing of coherent structures and the canopy shear scale from the prediction m = 7...10. The departures are due to the influence of the terrain affecting the shape of the canopy wind profile and therefore the vertical wind shear. An agreement is found for flows which are forced to reorganise downstream of flow obstacles. The vertical wind shear is identified as the main driving force from which coherent structures emerge close to the canopy. In the layer well above the canopy diabatic processes facilitate the generation of coherent structures of large temporal scales. Clearcuts in a fairly homogeneous canopy cause additional structures in the turbulent flow with large temporal scales. Coherent structures contribute about 16 % to total the momentum transfer and about 26 % to the total fluxes of buoyancy, carbon dioxide and latent heat. A scheme for the qualitative classification of exchange regimes between the atmosphere and the canopy is developed analysing the ejection and sweep phases of coherent structures along the vertical profile in the canopy. The presence of coherent structures causes flux errors in the eddy covariance method below 4 %. The effect of this flux error for long-term observations is negligible as individual flux errors average out. Coherent structures of large temporal scales significantly influence the scalar similarity required for the relaxed eddy accumulation technique. These flow structures are responsible for the diurnal changes of the scalar similarity observed in the traces of acoustic temperature and concentration of carbon dioxide and water vapour.

last modified 2013-10-24