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Constraining ecosystem processes from tower fluxes and atmospheric profiles

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T. C. Hill, M. Williams, F. I. Woodward, J. B. Moncrieff


The planetary boundary layer (PBL) provides an important link between the scales and processes resolved by global atmospheric sampling/modeling and site-based flux measurements. The PBL is in direct contact with the land surface, both driving and responding to ecosystem processes. Measurements within the PBL (e. g., by radiosondes, aircraft profiles, and flask measurements) have a footprint, and thus an integrating scale, on the order of; similar to 1-100 km. We use the coupled atmosphere-biosphere model (CAB) and a Bayesian data assimilation framework to investigate the amount of biosphere process information that can be inferred from PBL measurements.

We investigate the information content of PBL measurements in a two-stage study. First, we demonstrate consistency between the coupled model (CAB) and measurements, by comparing the model to eddy covariance flux tower measurements (i.e., water and carbon fluxes) and also PBL scalar profile measurements (i.e., water, carbon dioxide, and temperature) from Canadian boreal forest. Second, we use the CAB model in a set of Bayesian inversions experiments using synthetic data for a single day. In the synthetic experiment, leaf area and respiration were relatively well constrained, whereas surface albedo and plant hydraulic conductance were only moderately constrained. Finally, the abilities of the PBL profiles and the eddy covariance data to constrain the parameters were largely similar and only slightly lower than the combination of both observations.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1474-1489
Number of pages16
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2011

    Research areas

  • Aircraft observations, Boreal forest, Boreas, Carbon budget, Ecosystem model, Eddy covariance, Planetary boundary layer, Productivity, Transpiration, Eddy covariance measurements, Black spruce forest, Carbon-dioxide, Boundary-layer, Stomatal conductance, Surface fluxes, Water-vapor, Model, CO2

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