Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 137, Issue 2, pp 333–342 | Cite as

Estimation of Biomass Heat Storage Using Thermal Infrared Imagery: Application to a Walnut Orchard

  • Anirban Garai
  • Jan Kleissl
  • Stefan G. Llewellyn Smith
Open Access
Research Note


A new method to estimate tree biomass heat storage from thermal infrared (TIR) imaging of biomass surface temperature is presented. TIR images of the canopy are classified into trunk, branches, and leaves. The one-dimensional heat equation in cylindrical coordinates is forced with trunk and branch surface temperatures to simulate the temperature distribution and heat storage in tree trunks and branches. Assuming uniform leaf temperatures, heat storage in leaves is computed from the surface temperature of the leaves separately for the sunlit upper and shaded lower canopy. The sum of trunk, branches, leaf, and air heat storage gives the canopy heat storage. Measurements in a walnut orchard near Davis, California, in early June 2007 showed that biomass heat storage was of the same order as air heat storage and about 1% of daytime and 9% of nighttime net radiation.


Canopy heat storage Surface energy balance Thermal infrared imaging 



The analysis of the data was funded by NSF-EAR0739109. We would like to express our gratitude to Jan Hendrickx for the TIR camera, and Yoichi Shiga, Michael Sankur, and Mandana Farhadieh for field assistance. The experiment would not have been possible without the support of the NCAR Earth Observing Laboratory staff under the leadership of Ned Patton and Tom Horst. Thanks to Antonio Parades, the Cilker family, and Roy Gill for providing access to their orchards. The MATLAB program used to conduct these analyses is provided in the online material associated with this article.

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anirban Garai
    • 1
  • Jan Kleissl
    • 1
  • Stefan G. Llewellyn Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA

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