Effects of uncertainties in universal functions, roughness length, and displacement height on the calculation of surface layer fluxes

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A sensitivity analysis of the turbulent momentum and sensible heat fluxes as functions of wind speed and temperature gradients in the surface layer was made on the basis of Monin-Obukhov similarity theory. The sensitivity of parameterized fluxes to the choice of a number of universal functions found in the literature was examined. The relative standard deviations of sensible heat fluxes calculated using these universal functions are in the range of 10 to 20%. Differences between the minimum and maximum values of the heat fluxes generally are 30 to 50% of the mean values. Smaller differences are found in the calculation of momentum fluxes. These results demonstrate the difficulty in defining an optimal universal function that would be applicable to all conditions. The uncertainties originating from the choice of wind and temperature roughness lengths and displacement height were also analyzed. These uncertainties are very important when a complex surface is characterized by single values of roughness length and displacement height. Among the surface parameters, the largest error is caused by the uncertainty in estimating the wind and temperature roughness lengths. In the parameterization of the surface layer, the most frequently used model (that of BUSINGER et al., 1971) gives roughly the same result for the turbulent diffusion coefficient for sensible heat and the sensible heat flux as the mean of all the universal functions considered. However, the turbulent diffusion coefficient for the momentum and the momentum flux calculated using the BUSINGER et al. (1971) function gives substantially lower values than the average of the universal functions considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-154
Number of pages16
JournalMeteorologische Zeitschrift
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2000


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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