Interpretation of surface flux measurements in heterogeneous terrain during the Monsoon '90 experiment

Water Environment Research
By: , and 



A network of 9-m-tall surface flux measurement stations were deployed at eight sparsely vegetated sites during the Monsoon '90 experiment to measure net radiation, Q, soil heat flux, G, sensible heat flux, H (using eddy correlation), and latent heat flux, λE (using the energy balance equation). At four of these sites, 2-m-tall eddy correlation systems were used to measure all four fluxes directly. Also a 2-m-tall Bowen ratio system was deployed at one site. Magnitudes of the energy balance closure (Q + G + H + λE) increased as the complexity of terrain increased. The daytime Bowen ratio decreased from about 10 before the monsoon season to about 0.3 during the monsoons. Source areas of the measurements are developed and compared to scales of heterogeneity arising from the sparse vegetation and the topography. There was very good agreement among simultaneous measurements of Q with the same model sensor at different heights (representing different source areas), but poor agreement among different brands of sensors. Comparisons of simultaneous measurements of G suggest that because of the extremely small source area, extreme care in sensor deployment is necessary for accurate measurement in sparse canopies. A recently published model to estimate fetch is used to interpret measurements of H at the 2 m and 9 m heights. Three sites were characterized by undulating topography, with ridgetops separated by about 200–600 m. At these sites, sensors were located on ridgetops, and the 9-m fetch included the adjacent valley, whereas the 2-m fetch was limited to the immediate ridgetop and hillside. Before the monsoons began, vegetation was mostly dormant, the watershed was uniformly hot and dry, and the two measurements of H were in close agreement. After the monsoons began and vegetation fully matured, the 2-m measurements of H were significantly greater than the 9-m measurements, presumably because the vegetation in the valleys was denser and cooler than on the ridgetops and hillsides. At one lowland site with little topographic relief, the vegetation was more uniform, and the two measurements of H were in close agreement during peak vegetation. Values of λE could only be compared at two sites, but the 9-m values were greater than the 2-m values, suggesting λE from the dense vegetation in the valleys was greater than elsewhere.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Interpretation of surface flux measurements in heterogeneous terrain during the Monsoon '90 experiment
Series title Water Environment Research
DOI 10.1029/93WR03037
Volume 30
Issue 5
Year Published 1994
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 13 p.
First page 1227
Last page 1239
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