Derivation of an effective height for scintillometers: La Poza Experiment in Northwest Mexico

O.K. Hartogensis, C.J. Watts, J.C. Rodriguez, H.A.R. de Bruin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


The large-aperture scintillometer (LAS) is by now a generally accepted device for routinely obtaining the area-averaged sensible heat flux, H, on a scale of up to 10 km. It is an optical instrument that consists of a transmitter and receiver. In practice, the LAS beam height often varies along the path due to a variety of reasons. This study will explain what effective height to use in such situations, when analyzing scintillometer data to derive H. Several aspects are covered: a slanted path over flat terrain, structured terrain, and varying path height due to the curvature of the earth's surface. To test the derived effective height formulation the authors present LAS data taken in September and October 1996 at a rangeland site in Sonora, Mexico. In experiment 1, the LAS was set up over a slant path, ranging roughly between 10 and 45 m above the surface over a 3200-m path. In experiment 2, a horizontal LAS path was used at approximately 30 m over a pathlength of 1100 m. The resulting sensible heat fluxes were compared with eddy-covariance data and show satisfactory results for both the full and one of the approximate formulations of the effective height.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-928
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • large-aperture scintillometer
  • flevoland field experiment
  • sensible heat fluxes
  • refractive-index
  • heterogeneous surface
  • area
  • scintillation
  • fluctuations

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