A robust data cleaning procedure for eddy covariance flux measurements

Vitale, Domenico; Fratini, Gerardo; Bilancia, Massimo; Nicolini, Giacomo; Sabbatini, Simone; Papale, Dario

The sources of systematic error responsible for introducing significant biases in the eddy covariance (EC) flux computation are manifold, and their correct identification is made difficult by the lack of reference values, by the complex stochastic dynamics, and by the high level of noise characterizing raw data. This work contributes to overcoming such challenges by introducing an innovative strategy for EC data cleaning. The proposed strategy includes a set of tests aimed at detecting the presence of specific sources of systematic error, as well as an outlier detection procedure aimed at identifying aberrant flux values. Results from tests and outlier detection are integrated in such a way as to leave a large degree of flexibility in the choice of tests and of test threshold values, ensuring scalability of the whole process. The selection of best performing tests was carried out by means of Monte Carlo experiments, whereas the impact on real data was evaluated on data distributed by the Integrated Carbon Observation System (ICOS) research infrastructure. Results evidenced that the proposed procedure leads to an effective cleaning of EC flux data, avoiding the use of subjective criteria in the decision rule that specifies whether to retain or reject flux data of dubious quality. We expect that the proposed data cleaning procedure can serve as a basis towards a unified quality control strategy for EC datasets, in particular in centralized data processing pipelines where the use of robust and automated routines ensuring results reproducibility constitutes an essential prerequisite.

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Vitale, Domenico / Fratini, Gerardo / Bilancia, Massimo / et al: A robust data cleaning procedure for eddy covariance flux measurements. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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