Distributed Sensible Heat Flux Measurement for Wireless Sensor Networks

The sensible heat flux component of the surface energy balance is typically computed using eddy covariance or two point profile measurements while alternative approaches such as the flux variance method based on convective scaling has been much less explored and applied. Flux variance (FV) certainly has a few limitations and constraints but may be an interesting and competitive method in low-cost and power limited wireless sensor networks (WSN) with the advantage of providing spatio-temporal sensible heat flux over the domain of the network. In a first step, parameters such as sampling frequency, sensor response time, and averaging interval are investigated. Then we explore the applicability and the potential of the FV method for use in WSN in a field experiment. Low-cost sensor systems are tested and compared against reference instruments (3D sonic anemometers) to evaluate the performance and limitations of the sensors as well as the method with respect to the standard calculations. Comparison experiments were carried out at several sites to gauge the flux measurements over different surface types (gravel, grass, water) from the low-cost systems. This study should also serve as an example of spatially distributed sensible heat flux measurements.


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