Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 158, Issue 3, pp 489–499 | Cite as

Surface-Parallel Sensor Orientation for Assessing Energy Balance Components on Mountain Slopes

  • P. Serrano-OrtizEmail author
  • E. P. Sánchez-Cañete
  • F. J. Olmo
  • S. Metzger
  • O. Pérez-Priego
  • A. Carrara
  • L. Alados-Arboledas
  • A. S. Kowalski
Notes and Comments


The consistency of eddy-covariance measurements is often evaluated in terms of the degree of energy balance closure. Even over sloping terrain, instrumentation for measuring energy balance components is commonly installed horizontally, i.e. perpendicular to the geo-potential gradient. Subsequently, turbulent fluxes of sensible and latent heat are rotated perpendicular to the mean streamlines using tilt-correction algorithms. However, net radiation \((R_{\mathrm{n}})\) and soil heat fluxes (G) are treated differently, and typically only \(R_{\mathrm{n}}\) is corrected to account for slope. With an applied case study, we show and argue several advantages of installing sensors surface-parallel to measure surface-normal \(R_{\mathrm{n}}\) and G. For a 17 % south-west-facing slope, our results show that horizontal installation results in hysteresis in the energy balance closure and errors of up to 25 %. Finally, we propose an approximation to estimate the surface-normal \(R_{\mathrm{n}}\), when only vertical \(R_{\mathrm{n}}\) measurements are available.


Energy balance closure Hysteresis Net radiation  Soil heat flux Sloping terrains 



We thank the following for their critical opinions and valuable comments: Edward Ayres, Robert Clement, Thomas Foken, Hongyan Luo, Harry McCaughey, Natchaya Pingintha-Durden, and Jielun Sun. This research was funded in part by the Andalusia Regional Government through projects P12RNM-2409 and P10-RNM-6299, by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness though projects CGL2010-18782, CGL2014-52838-C2-1-R (GEISpain) and CGL2013-45410-R; and by European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme through INFRA-2010-1.1.16-262254 (ACTRIS), INFRA-2011-1-284274 (InGOS) and PEOPLE-2013-IOF-625988 (DIESEL) projects. The National Ecological Observatory Network is a project sponsored by the National Science Foundation and managed under cooperative agreement by NEON, Inc. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under the grant DBI-0752017. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. Serrano-Ortiz
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • E. P. Sánchez-Cañete
    • 2
    • 3
  • F. J. Olmo
    • 2
    • 4
  • S. Metzger
    • 5
    • 6
  • O. Pérez-Priego
    • 7
  • A. Carrara
    • 8
  • L. Alados-Arboledas
    • 2
    • 4
  • A. S. Kowalski
    • 2
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de EcologíaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  2. 2.Andalusian Institute for Earth System Research (CEAMA-IISTA)Universidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  3. 3.B2 Earthscience, Biosphere 2University of ArizonaTucsonUSA
  4. 4.Departamento de Física AplicadaUniversidad de GranadaGranadaSpain
  5. 5.National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON)BoulderUSA
  6. 6.Institute for Arctic and Alpine ResearchUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  7. 7.Department of Biogeochemical IntegrationMax Planck Institute for BiogeochemistryJenaGermany
  8. 8.Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo (CEAM)ValenciaSpain

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