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Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 18, issue 7 | Copyright
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 18, 5059-5074, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 13 Apr 2018

Research article | 13 Apr 2018

The influence of idealized surface heterogeneity on virtual turbulent flux measurements

Frederik De Roo1 and Matthias Mauder1,2 Frederik De Roo and Matthias Mauder
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Atmospheric Environmental Research (IMK-IFU), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Kreuzeckbahnstrasse 19, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 2Institute of Geography and Geoecology (IfGG), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Kaiserstrasse 12, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract. 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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We investigate the mismatch between incoming energy and the turbulent flux of sensible heat at the Earth's surface and how surface heterogeneity affects this imbalance. To resolve the turbulent fluxes we employ large-eddy simulations. We study terrain with different heterogeneity lengths and quantify the contributions of advection by the mean flow and horizontal flux-divergence in the surface energy budget. We find that the latter contributions depend on the scale of the heterogeneity length.
We investigate the mismatch between incoming energy and the turbulent flux of sensible heat at...