The influence of idealized surface heterogeneity on virtual turbulent flux measurements

De Roo, Frederik; Mauder, Matthias

The imbalance of the surface energy budget in eddy-covariance measurements is still an unsolved problem. A possible cause is the presence of land surface heterogeneity, which affects the boundary-layer turbulence. To investigate the impact of surface variables on the partitioning of the energy budget of flux measurements in the surface layer under convective conditions, we set up a systematic parameter study by means of large-eddy simulation. For the study we use a virtual control volume approach, which allows the determination of advection by the mean flow, flux-divergence and storage terms of the energy budget at the virtual measurement site, in addition to the standard turbulent flux. We focus on the heterogeneity of the surface fluxes and keep the topography flat. The surface fluxes vary locally in intensity and these patches have different length scales. Intensity and length scales can vary for the two horizontal dimensions but follow an idealized chessboard pattern. Our main focus lies on surface heterogeneity of the kilometer scale, and one order of magnitude smaller. For these two length scales, we investigate the average response of the fluxes at a number of virtual towers, when varying the heterogeneity length within the length scale and when varying the contrast between the different patches. For each simulation, virtual measurement towers were positioned at functionally different positions (e.g., downdraft region, updraft region, at border between domains, etc.). As the storage term is always small, the non-closure is given by the sum of the advection by the mean flow and the flux-divergence. Remarkably, the missing flux can be described by either the advection by the mean flow or the flux-divergence separately, because the latter two have a high correlation with each other. For kilometer scale heterogeneity, we notice a clear dependence of the updrafts and downdrafts on the surface heterogeneity and likewise we also see a dependence of the energy partitioning on the tower location. For the hectometer scale, we do not notice such a clear dependence. Finally, we seek correlators for the energy balance ratio in the simulations. The correlation with the friction velocity is less pronounced than previously found, but this is likely due to our concentration on effectively strongly to freely convective conditions.

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De Roo, Frederik / Mauder, Matthias: The influence of idealized surface heterogeneity on virtual turbulent flux measurements. 2018. Copernicus Publications.

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