The long-term measurement of total evaporation over Acacia mearnsii using large aperture scintillometry
Clulow, Alistair David.
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A large aperture scintillometer (LAS) was operated continuously over a distance of 575 m from 19 August 2006 to 29 September 2007 in the South African KwaZulu-Natal midlands mistbelt area over Wattle (Acacia mearnsii). The LAS measurements of the structure parameter of the refractive index of air ( 2 n C ), were used to calculate the sensible heat flux. The shortened energy balance equation was used to estimate the latent energy flux as a residual from which the total evaporation (ET) was calculated. The LAS estimates of sensible heat flux during the short transition period (1 hour) between stable and unstable conditions were on occasion erroneous and required verification. Advection was also found to affect sensible heat flux estimates. Long-term operation of the LAS was however found to be possible even at remote sites, producing reliable and continuous results. The LAS estimates of sensible heat are sensitive to zero-plane displacement height and wind speed data impact and these should be derived as accurately as possible. Tree heights were measured at monthly intervals and a zero-plane displacement and effective height were calculated every two weeks. The sensible heat flux was thus processed in two week blocks of data corresponding to progressive effective heights. The tree growth rate was consistent over time and was not affected by seasonality, indicating that reduced air temperatures, rainfall and solar irradiance in winter are not limiting growth. The average growth rate was 0.37 m per month or 4.5 m per year. The LAS ET was compared to the American Society of Civil Engineers - Environmental and Water Resources Institute (ASCE-EWRI) short grass reference evaporation (ETsz) for a seven-month period and was found to compare favourably (R2 = 0.78) with outliers caused by advection and rainfall events. Calculations of grass reference evaporation at hourly and daily intervals provide different results. The daily estimates are lower than the hourly estimates by 17 % on average. Where hourly data is summed to calculate a daily ETsz, night-time values should be included. The LAS ET measurements were validated against the Priestley and Taylor (1972) method of estimating ET and found to be in good agreement (R2=0.94). The Priestley and Taylor daily total latent energy flux, from 22 August 2006 to 29 September 2007, was 9 % higher than the LAS results on average. The Bowen ratio for the entire period is less than 1, indicating that the latent energy flux dominates at the site. The ET over the period of measurement (13 months) is 1250 mm and the rainfall is 750 mm. This confirms previous results at the site using the Bowen ratio energy balance method showing that the ET exceeds the rainfall by 45 % and justifies further research into soil water, ground water and root interactions in the deep soil profile.