Intercomparison of Methods for the Simultaneous Estimation of Zero-Plane Displacement and Aerodynamic Roughness Length from Single-Level Eddy-Covariance Data

A. Graf, A. van de Boer, A.F. Moene, H. Vereecken

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19 Citations (Scopus)


We applied three approaches to estimate the zero-plane displacement d through the aerodynamic measurement height z (with z = zm - d and zm being the measurement height above the surface), and the aerodynamic roughness length z0, from single-level eddy covariance data. Two approaches (one iterative and one regression-based) were based on the universal function in the logarithmic wind profile and yielded an inherently simultaneous estimation of both d and z0. The third approach was based on flux–variance similarity, where estimation of d and consecutive estimation of z0 are independent steps. Each approach was further divided into two methods differing either with respect to the solution technique (profile approaches) or with respect to the variable (variance of vertical wind and temperature, respectively). All methods were applied to measurements above a large, growing wheat field where a uniform canopy height and its frequent monitoring provided plausibility limits for the resulting estimates of time-variant d and z0. After applying, for each approach, a specific data filtering that accounted for the range of conditions (e.g. stability) for which it is valid, five of the six methods were able to describe the temporal changes of roughness parameters associated with crop growth and harvest, and four of them agreed on d to within 0.3 m most of the time. Application of the same methods to measurements with a more heterogeneous footprint consisting of fully-grown sugarbeet and a varying contribution of adjacent harvested fields exhibited a plausible dependence of the roughness parameters on the sugarbeet fraction. It also revealed that the methods producing the largest outliers can differ between site conditions and stability. We therefore conclude that when determining d for canopies with unknown properties from single-level measurements, as is increasingly done, it is important to compare the results of a number of methods rather than rely on a single one. An ensemble average or median of the results, possibly after elimination of methods that produce outliers, can help to yield more robust estimates. The estimates of z0 were almost exclusively physically plausible, although d was considered unknown and estimated simultaneously with the methods and results described above
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-387
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • frequency-response corrections
  • atmospheric boundary-layer
  • sonic anemometer data
  • tall vegetation
  • sensible-heat
  • surface
  • parameters
  • height
  • flux
  • temperature

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