Analysing surface energy balance closure and partitioning over a semi-arid savanna FLUXNET site in Skukuza, Kruger National Park, South Africa
Majozi NP., Mannaerts CM., Ramoelo A., Mathieu R., Nickless A., Verhoef W.
<jats:p>Flux tower sites and data are in great demand to provide essential terrestrial climate, water and radiation budget information needed for environmental monitoring and evaluation of climate change impacts on ecosystems and society in general. They are also intended for calibration and validation of satellite-based earth observation and monitoring efforts, such as for example assessment of evapotranspiration from land and vegetation surfaces using surface energy balance approaches. Surface energy budget methods for ET estimation rely to a large extend on the basic assumption of a surface energy balance closure, assuming the full conversion of net solar radiation reaching the land surface into soil heat conduction and turbulent fluxes, i.e. the sensible (or convection) and latent heat components of the energy balance. Evapotranspiration is the conversion of the latent heat exchange fraction of the balance. In this paper, the Skukuza flux tower data were analysed in order to verify their use for validation of satellite–based evapotranspiration methods, under development in South Africa.Data series from 2000 until 2014 were used in the analysis. The energy balance ratio (EBR) concept, defined as the ratio between the sum of the turbulent convective and latent heat fluxes and radiation minus soil heat was used. At first typical diurnal patterns of EB partitioning were derived for four different seasons, well illustrating how this savannah-type biome responses to the weather conditions. Also the particular behaviour of the EB components during sunrise and sunset conditions, being important but usually neglected periods of energy transitions and inversions were noted and analysed. Annual estimates of the surface energy balance and its components were generated, including an evaluation of the balance closure. The seasonal variations were also investigated as well as the impact of nocturnal observations on the overall EB behaviour.</jats:p>