Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 165, Issue 2, pp 197–210 | Cite as

Evaluation of Density Corrections to Methane Fluxes Measured by Open-Path Eddy Covariance over Contrasting Landscapes

  • Samuel D. Chamberlain
  • Joseph Verfaillie
  • Elke Eichelmann
  • Kyle S. Hemes
  • Dennis D. Baldocchi
Research Article


Corrections accounting for air density fluctuations due to heat and water vapour fluxes must be applied to the measurement of eddy-covariance fluxes when using open-path sensors. Experimental tests and ecosystem observations have demonstrated the important role density corrections play in accurately quantifying carbon dioxide \((\hbox {CO}_{2})\) fluxes, but less attention has been paid to evaluating these corrections for methane \((\hbox {CH}_{4})\) fluxes. We measured \(\hbox {CH}_{4}\) fluxes with open-path sensors over a suite of sites with contrasting \(\hbox {CH}_{4}\) emissions and energy partitioning, including a pavement airfield, two negligible-flux ecosystems (drained alfalfa and pasture), and two high-flux ecosystems (flooded wetland and rice). We found that density corrections successfully re-zeroed fluxes in negligible-flux sites; however, slight overcorrection was observed above pavement. The primary impact of density corrections varied over negligible- and high-flux ecosystems. For negligible-flux sites, corrections led to greater than 100% adjustment in daily budgets, while these adjustments were only 3–10% in high-flux ecosystems. The primary impact to high-flux ecosystems was a change in flux diel patterns, which may affect the evaluation of relationships between biophysical drivers and fluxes if correction bias exists. Additionally, accounting for density effects to high-frequency \(\hbox {CH}_{4}\) fluctuations led to large differences in observed \(\hbox {CH}_{4}\) flux cospectra above negligible-flux sites, demonstrating that similar adjustments should be made before interpreting \(\hbox {CH}_{4}\) cospectra for comparable ecosystems. These results give us confidence in \(\hbox {CH}_{4}\) fluxes measured by open-path sensors, and demonstrate that density corrections play an important role in adjusting flux budgets and diel patterns across a range of ecosystems.


Carbon dioxide flux Density correction Eddy covariance Greenhouse gas emission Micrometeorology 



This research was supported in part by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and its funding of Ameriflux core sites (Ameriflux contract 7079856), and the California Division of Fish and Wildlife, through a contract of the California Department of Water Resources (Award 4600011240). We also thank four anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback on drafts of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samuel D. Chamberlain
    • 1
  • Joseph Verfaillie
    • 1
  • Elke Eichelmann
    • 1
  • Kyle S. Hemes
    • 1
  • Dennis D. Baldocchi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and ManagementUniversity of California, BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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