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Using sonic anemometer temperature to measure sensible heat flux in strong winds

Author(s): S. P. Burns | T. W. Horst | P. D. Blanken | R. K. Monson

Journal: Atmospheric Measurement Techniques Discussions
ISSN 1867-8610

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 447;
Date: 2012;
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The sensible heat flux (H) is a significant component of the surface energy balance (SEB). Sonic anemometers simultaneously measure the turbulent fluctuations of vertical wind (w') and sonic temperature (Ts'), and are commonly used to measure H. Our study examines 30-min heat fluxes measured with a Campbell Scientific model CSAT3 sonic anemometer above a subalpine forest. We compare H calculated with Ts to H calculated with a co-located thermocouple and find that for horizontal wind speed (U) less than 8 m s−1 the agreement is ≈±30 W m−2. However, for U >≈ 8 m s−1, the CSAT3 H becomes larger than H calculated with the thermocouple, reaching a maximum difference of ≈250 W m−2 at U ≈ 18 m s−1. H calculated with the thermocouple results in a SEB that is relatively independent of U at high wind speeds. In contrast, the SEB calculated with H from the CSAT3 varies considerably with U, particularly at night. Cospectral analysis of w'Ts' suggest that spurious correlation is a problem during high winds which leads to a positive (additive) increase in H calculated with the CSAT3. At night, when H is typically negative, this CSAT3 error results in a measured H that falsely approaches zero or even becomes positive. Within a broader context, the usefulness of side-by-side instrument comparisons are discussed.
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