, Volume 148, Issue 2, pp 285-308

Coherent Structures at a Forest Edge: Properties, Coupling and Impact of Secondary Circulations

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Abstract

Little is known about the influence of coherent structures on the exchange process, mainly in the case of forest edges. Thus, in the framework of the ExchanGE processes in mountainous Regions (EGER) project, measurements of atmospheric turbulence were taken at different heights between a forest and an adjacent clear cutting using sonic anemometers and high-frequency optical gas analyzers. From these turbulence data, dominant coherent structures were extracted using an already existing wavelet methodology, which was developed for homogeneous forest canopies. The aim of this study is to highlight differences in properties of coherent structures between a forest and a clear cutting. Distinct features of coherent exchange at the forest edge are presented and a careful investigation of vertical and horizontal coupling by coherent structures around the surface heterogeneity is made. Within the forest, coherent structures are less frequent but possess larger time scales, indicating that only the largest coherent motions can penetrate through the forest canopy. At the forest edge, there is no crown layer that can hinder the vertical exchange of coherent structures, because these exhibit similar time scales at all heights. In contradiction to that, no improved vertical coupling was detected at the forest edge. This is mainly because the structures captured by the applied routine contribute less to total turbulent fluxes at the edge than within the forest. Thus, coherent structures with time scales between 10 and 40 s are not the dominant exchange mechanism at the forest edge. With respect to the horizontal direction, a consistent picture of coherent transport could be derived: along the forest edge there is mainly good coupling by coherent structures, whereas perpendicular to the forest edge there is mainly decoupling. Finally, it was found that there is a systematic modulation of coherent structures directly at the forest edge: strong ejection motions appear in all time series during the daytime, whereas strong sweeps dominate at night. An effect of wind direction relative to the forest edge is excluded. Consequently, it is hypothesized that this might be an indication of a quasi-stationary secondary circulation above the clear cutting that develops due to differences in surface temperature and roughness. Such circulations might be a relevant turbulent transport mechanism for ecosystem-atmosphere exchange in heterogeneous landscapes.