Eddy covariance (EC) systems are being used to measure sensible heat (H) and latent heat (LE) fluxes in order to determine crop water use or evapotranspiration (ET). The reliability of EC measurements depends on meeting certain meteorological assumptions; the most important of such are horizontal homogeneity, stationarity, and non-advective conditions. Over heterogeneous surfaces, the spatial context of the measurement must be known in order to properly interpret the magnitude of the heat flux measurement results. Over the past decades, there has been a proliferation of ‘heat flux source area’ (i.e., footprint) modeling studies, but only a few have explored the accuracy of the models over heterogeneous agricultural land. A composite ET estimate was created by using the estimated footprint weights for an EC system in the upwind corner of four fields and separate ET estimates from each of these fields. Three analytical footprint models were evaluated by comparing the composite ET to the measured ET. All three models performed consistently well, with an average mean bias error (MBE) of about −0.03 mm h−1
(−4.4%) and root mean square error (RMSE) of 0.09 mm h−1
(10.9%). The same three footprint models were then used to adjust the EC-measured ET to account for the fraction of the footprint that extended beyond the field of interest. The effectiveness of the footprint adjustment was determined by comparing the adjusted ET estimates with the lysimetric ET measurements from within the same field. This correction decreased the absolute hourly ET MBE by 8%, and the RMSE by 1%.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited