Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 127, Issue 3, pp 449–467 | Cite as

Eddy-Covariance Flux Measurements in the Complex Terrain of an Alpine Valley in Switzerland

  • Rebecca Hiller
  • Matthias J. Zeeman
  • Werner EugsterEmail author
Original Paper


We measured the surface energy budget of an Alpine grassland in highly complex terrain to explore possibilities and limitations for application of the eddy-covariance technique, also for CO2 flux measurements, at such non-ideal locations. This paper focuses on the influence of complex terrain on the turbulent energy measurements of a characteristic high Alpine grassland on Crap Alv (Alp Weissenstein) in the Swiss Alps during the growing season 2006. Measurements were carried out on a topographic terrace with a slope of 25 inclination. Flux data quality is assessed via the closure of the energy budget and the quality flag method used within the CarboEurope project. During 93% of the time the wind direction was along the main valley axis (43% upvalley and 50% downvalley directions). During the transition times of the typical twice daily wind direction changes in a mountain valley the fraction of high and good quality flux data reached a minimum of ≈50%, whereas during the early afternoon ≈70% of all records yielded good to highest quality (CarboEurope flags 0 and 1). The overall energy budget closure was 74 ± 2%. An angular correction for the shortwave energy input to the slope improved the energy budget closure slightly to 82 ± 2% for afternoon conditions. In the daily total, the measured turbulent energy fluxes are only underestimated by around 8% of net radiation. In summary, our results suggest that it is possible to yield realistic energy flux measurements under such conditions. We thus argue that the Crap Alv site and similar topographically complex locations with short-statured vegetation should be well suited also for CO2 flux measurements.


Alpine grasslands CarboEurope project Complex terrain Energy budget closure Footprint model Quality control Valley wind system 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Hiller
    • 1
    • 2
  • Matthias J. Zeeman
    • 3
  • Werner Eugster
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of GeographyUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.University of MinnesotaSaint PaulUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Plant SciencesETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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