An Evaluation of Aircraft Flux Measurements of CO2, Water Vapor and Sensible Heat

  • R. L. Desjardins
  • J. I. Macpherson
  • P. H. Schuepp
  • F. Karanja


Ground-based flux measurements of carbon dioxide and water vapor integrate physiological processes taking place on a field scale. Aircraft flux measurements have recently been undertaken to attempt to widen the scope of applicability of such measurements. However, because of the intermittency of turbulent transfer, flux measurements must be averaged over long periods of time or long distances to give reproducible results. This requirement makes it difficult to relate aircraft flux measurements to local surface processes. Flux measurements of CO2, latent and sensible heat obtained from repeated passes in four directions and at three elevations over a homogeneous wheat-growing area are compared with ground-based measurements. Averages based on four runs of 4 km in length gave results consistent with ground-based measurements. The largest percentage differences were in the sensible heat flux. Cospectral analyses showed no significant high frequency losses for the data from flight levels of 25 and 50 m, but an underestimation of approximately 10% resulted at 10 m. Flight direction with respect to wind direction was relatively unimportant at 10 and 25 m but some effects were observed at 50 m. It was also shown that at 25 m, over a relatively smooth and homogeneous surface, the means of either three or four runs 4 km in length were similar to the means of 12–16 km runs. This confirms that at this altitude, most of the flux contribution is contained at wavelengths less than 4 km and that the mean of 3 to 4 passes accounts for most of the intermittency of turbulent transfer.


Flux Density Flux Measurement Flux Estimate Turbulent Transfer Marine Atmospheric Boundary Layer 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. L. Desjardins
    • 1
  • J. I. Macpherson
    • 2
  • P. H. Schuepp
    • 3
  • F. Karanja
    • 3
  1. 1.Agrometeorology Section, Land Resource Research Centre, Research BranchAgriculture CanadaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Flight Research LaboratoryNational Research CouncilOttawaCanada
  3. 3.Dept. of Renewable ResourcesMacdonald College of McGill UniversitySte. Anne de BellevueCanada

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