A system to measure surface fluxes of momentum, sensible heat, water vapour and carbon dioxide

J B Moncrieff, J M Massheder, H deBruin, J Elbers, T Friborg, B Heusinkveld, P Kabat, S Scott, H Soegaard, A Verhoef

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An eddy covariance system is described which has been developed jointly at a number of European laboratories and which was used widely in HAPEX-Sahel. The system uses commercially available instrumentation: a three-axis sonic anemometer and an IR gas analyser which is used in a closed-path mode, i.e. air is brought to the optical bench by being ducted down a sampling tube from a point near the sonic anemometer. The system is controlled by specially written software which calculates the surface fluxes of momentum, sensible and latent heat and carbon dioxide, and displays them in real time. The raw turbulent records can be stored for post-processing. Up to five additional analogue instruments can be sampled at up to 10 Hz and digitised by the sonic anemometer. The instruments are described and details of their operation and connection are presented. The system has relatively low power consumption and can operate from appropriate solar cells or rechargeable batteries. Calibration of the gas analyser needs to be performed typically every 2 or 3 days, and, given that the system requires minimal maintenance and is weather insensitive, it can be operated for the routine collection of surface flux data for extended periods. There are a number of corrections which have to be applied in any eddy covariance system and we describe the system of transfer functions which define our system. Some representative results showing the potential of the system are presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)589-611
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1997


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