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Relationship of surface heat flux to microscale temperature variations: Application to boreas


The surface heat flux is normally parameterized in terms of the difference between the air temperature and the surface radiative temperature, or equivalently, the temperature computed from the surface energy balance. In this note, the relationship between the heat flux and the air-surface temperature difference is shown to be sensitive to the microscale variability of the surface radiation temperature caused by differences between the well-ventilated tree tops and less ventilated ground surface. This conclusion is based on surface and aircraft data collected during the Boreal Ecosystem-Atmosphere Study (BOREAS). For this case, the heat flux cannot be predicted by adjusting the thermal roughness height. As an alternative, the aerodynamic temperature can be related to a weighted average of the surface radtation temperature analogous to application of a simple canopy model. Here, the total heat flux is the sum of the heat fluxes from each individual surface type weighted by the area-fractional coverage.

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Part of this work was carried out in the Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, St. Louis University and the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Part of this work was carried out in the Mesoscale and Microscale Meteorology Division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

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Sun, J., Mahrt, L. Relationship of surface heat flux to microscale temperature variations: Application to boreas. Boundary-Layer Meteorol 76, 291–301 (1995).

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Key words

  • Heat flux
  • Forest meteorology
  • Microscale
  • Surface radiation temperature