Investigation on the Importance of Fast Air Temperature Measurements in the Sampling Cell of Short-Tube Closed-Path Gas Analyzer for Eddy-Covariance Fluxes

Friday, 19 December 2014
James C Kathilankal, Gerardo Fratini and George G Burba, LI-COR Biosciences, Lincoln, NE, United States
High-speed, precise gas analyzers used in eddy covariance flux research measure gas content in a known volume, thus essentially measuring gas density. The classical eddy flux equation, however, is based on the dry mole fraction. The relation between dry mole fraction and density is regulated by the ideal gas law and law of partial pressures, and depends on water vapor content, temperature and pressure of air. If the instrument can output precise fast dry mole fraction, the flux processing is significantly simplified and WPL terms accounting for air density fluctuations are no longer required. This will also lead to the reduction in uncertainties associated with the WPL terms. For instruments adopting an open-path design, this method is difficult to use because of complexities with maintaining reliable fast temperature measurements integrated over the entire measuring path, and also because of extraordinary challenges with accurate measurements of fast pressure in the open air flow. For instruments utilizing a traditional long-tube closed-path design, with tube length 1000 or more times the tube diameter, this method can be used when instantaneous fluctuations in the air temperature of the sampled air are effectively dampened, instantaneous pressure fluctuations are regulated or negligible, and water vapor is measured simultaneously with gas, or the sample is dried. For instruments with a short-tube enclosed design, most - but not all - of the temperature fluctuations are attenuated, so calculating unbiased fluxes using fast dry mole fraction output requires high-speed, precise temperature measurements of the air stream inside the cell. In this presentation, authors look at short-term and long-term data sets to assess the importance of high-speed, precise air temperature measurements in the sampling cell of short-tube enclosed gas analyzers. The CO2 and H2O half hourly flux calculations, as well as long-term carbon and water budgets, are examined.