Comparison between tower and aircraft-based eddy covariance fluxes in five European regions

B. Gioli, F. Miglietta, B. De Martino, R.W.A. Hutjes, A.J. Dolman, A. Lindroth, M. Schumacher, M.J. Sanz, G. Manca, A. Peressotti, E.J. Dumas

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77 Citations (Scopus)


Airborne eddy covariance measurements provide a unique opportunity to directly measure surface energy, mass and momentum fluxes at the regional scale. This offers the possibility to complement the data that are obtained by the ground-based eddy covariance networks and to validate estimates of the surface fluxes that can be obtained by means of satellite products and models. The overall accuracy and the reliability of airborne eddy covariance measurements have already been assessed in the past for different platforms. More recently an international collaboration between several research laboratories and a European aeronautical manufacturer led to the development of a new small environmental research aircraft, called the Sky Arrow ERA (Environmental Research Aircraft). This aircraft has been used in the framework of the European Research Project RECAB (Regional Assessment and Modelling of the Carbon Balance in Europe), that is part of the CarboEurope projects cluster, to measure surface mass and energy exchange at five different European locations. An extensive comparison between airborne and ground-based flux data at seven flux measurement sites, showed the overall matching between airborne and tower data. While friction velocity and latent heat flux estimates made by airborne and tower data were comparable at all sites and under whatever conditions, substantial and consistent underestimation of CO2 (28% on average) and sensible heat fluxes (35% on average) was observed. Differences in the aircraft and tower footprint and flux divergence with height explained most of the discrepancies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • atmospheric boundary-layer
  • carbon-dioxide
  • water-vapor
  • boreal forest
  • sensible heat
  • latent-heat
  • co2
  • footprint
  • exchange
  • fluxnet


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