Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 74, Issue 3, pp 237–260 | Cite as

Estimation of surface heat and momentum fluxes using the flux-variance method above uniform and non-uniform terrain

  • Gabriel Katul
  • Stewart M. Goltz
  • Cheng-I Hsieh
  • Yung Cheng
  • Fred Mowry
  • John Sigmon


Eddy-correlation measurements above an uneven-aged forest, a uniform-irrigated bare soil field, and within a grass-covered forest clearing were used to investigate the usefulness of the fluxvariance method above uniform and non-uniform terrain. For this purpose, the Monin and Obukhov (1954) variance similarity functions were compared with direct measurements. Such comparisons were in close agreement for momentum and heat but not for water vapor. Deviations between measured and predicted similarity functions for water vapor were attributed to three factors: 1) the active role of temperature in surface-layer turbulence, 2) dissimilarity between sources and sinks of heat and water vapor at the ground surface, and 3) the non-uniformity in water vapor sources and sinks. It was demonstrated that the latter non-uniformity contributed to horizontal gradients that do not scale with the vertical flux. These three factors resulted in a turbulence regime that appeared more efficient in transporting heat than water vapor for the dynamic convective sublayer but not for the dynamic sublayer. The agreement between eddy-correlation measured and flux-variance predicted sensible heat flux was better than that for latent heat flux at all three sites. The flux-variance method systematically overestimated the latent heat flux when compared to eddy-correlation measurements. It was demonstrated that the non-uniformity in water vapor sources reduced the surface flux when compared to an “equivalent” uniform terrain subjected to identical shear stress, sensible heat flux, and atmospheric water vapor variance. Finally, the correlation between the temperature and water vapor fluctuations was related to the relative efficiency of surface-layer turbulence in removing heat and water vapor. These relations were used to assess critical assumptions in the derivation of the flux-variance formulation.


Water Vapor Latent Heat Flux Atmospheric Water Vapor Identical Shear Water Vapor Source 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabriel Katul
    • 1
  • Stewart M. Goltz
    • 1
  • Cheng-I Hsieh
    • 1
  • Yung Cheng
    • 1
  • Fred Mowry
    • 1
  • John Sigmon
    • 1
  1. 1.School of the EnvironmentLevine Science Research Center, Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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