Theoretical and Applied Climatology

, Volume 80, Issue 2, pp 169–185

Numerical analysis of flux footprints for different landscapes


  • A. Sogachev
    • Department of Physical SciencesUniversity of Helsinki
  • O. Panferov
    • Institute of Bioclimatology, University of Goettingen
  • G. Gravenhorst
    • Institute of Bioclimatology, University of Goettingen
  • T. Vesala
    • Department of Physical SciencesUniversity of Helsinki

DOI: 10.1007/s00704-004-0098-8

Cite this article as:
Sogachev, A., Panferov, O., Gravenhorst, G. et al. Theor. Appl. Climatol. (2005) 80: 169. doi:10.1007/s00704-004-0098-8


A model for the canopy – planetary boundary layer flow and scalar transport based on E-ɛ closure was applied to estimate footprint for CO2 fluxes over different inhomogeneous landscapes. Hypothetical heterogeneous vegetation patterns – forest with clear-cuts as well as hypothetical heterogeneous relief – a bell-shaped valley and a ridge covered by forest were considered. The distortions of airflow caused by these heterogeneities are shown – the upwind deceleration of the flow at the ridge foot and above valley, acceleration at the crest and the flow separation with the reversed flow pattern at lee slopes of ridge and valley. The disturbances induce changes in scalar flux fields within the atmospheric surface layer comparing to fluxes for homogeneous conditions: at a fixed height the fluxes vary as a function of distance to disturbance. Correspondingly, the flux footprint estimated from model data depends on the location of the point of interest (flux measurement point) and may significantly deviate from that for a flat terrain. It is shown that proposed method could be used for the choice of optimal sensor position for flux measurements over complex terrain as well as for the interpretation of data for existing measurement sites. To illustrate the latter the method was applied for experimental site in Solling, Germany, taking into account the complex topography and vegetation heterogeneities. Results show that in certain situations (summer, neutral stratification, south or north wind) and for a certain sensor location the assumptions of idealized air flow structure could be used for measurement interpretation at this site, though in general, extreme caution should be applied when analytical footprint models are used in the interpretation of flux measurements over complex sites.

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© Springer-Verlag/Wien 2004