, Volume 126, Issue 2, pp 209-218
Date: 24 Oct 2007

Consequences of Uncertainties in CO2 Density for Estimating Net Ecosystem CO2 Exchange by Open-path Eddy Covariance

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Errors in the estimation of CO2 surface exchange by open-path eddy covariance, introduced during the removal of density terms [Webb et al. Quart J Roy Meteorol Soc 106:85–100, (1980) - WPL], can happen both because of errors in energy fluxes [Liu et al. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 120:65–85, (2006)] but also because of inaccuracies in other terms included in the density corrections, most notably due to measurements of absolute CO2 density (ρ c ). Equations are derived to examine the propagation of all errors through the WPL algorithm. For an open-path eddy covariance system operating in the Sierra de Gádor in south-east Spain, examples are presented of the inability of an unattended, open-path infrared gas analyzer (IRGA) to reliably report ρ c and the need for additional instrumentation to determine calibration corrections. A sensitivity analysis shows that relatively large and systematic errors in net ecosystem exchange (NEE) can result from uncertainties in ρ c in a semi-arid climate with large sensible heat fluxes (H s ) and (wet) mineral deposition. When ρc is underestimated by 5% due to lens contamination, this implies a 13% overestimation of monthly CO2 uptake.