Surface Fluxes and Characteristics of Drying Semi-Arid Terrain in West Africa

D. Schüttemeyer, A.F. Moene, A.A.M. Holtslag, H.A.R. Debruin, N.C. van de Giesen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines the seasonal cycle of the components of the surface energy balance in the Volta basin in West Africa as part of the GLOWA-Volta project. The regional climate is characterized by a strong north¿south gradient of mean annual rainfall and the occurrence of pronounced dry and wet seasons within one annual cycle, causing a strong seasonal variation in the natural vegetation cover. The observations are conducted with a combined system, consisting of a Large Aperture Scintillometer (LAS) for areally averaged sensible heat flux, radiometers and sensors for soil heat flux. For comparisons the eddy-covariance (EC) method providing the fluxes of momentum, sensible and latent heat is utilized as well. The measurements of a seasonal cycle in 2002/2003 were gathered including the rapid wet-to-dry transition after the wet season at two locations in Ghana, one in the humid tropical southern region and one in the northern region. A direct comparison and the energy balance closure of the two methods are investigated for daytime and nighttime separately. An attempt is made to understand and explain the differences between the two methods and the closure of energy budget found for these. It is found that the two systems correspond well during daytime. During nighttime the LAS seems to perform more realistically than the EC system. Considering the fact that a LAS system is much easier to use in the climate conditions of the Volta basin, it is concluded that the LAS approach is very suitable in this type of climate conditions. Surface conductances are estimated by rearranging the Penman¿Monteith equation and compared to a Jarvis-type model optimised for savannah conditions. It is found that temperature dependence should be included in the conductance formulation in contrast to earlier findings. Based on the findings the gathered dataset can be used for further model studies of the climate and environment of West Africa
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-612
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2006


  • energy-balance closure
  • water-vapor
  • sonic anemometer
  • structure parameter
  • sahelian savanna
  • refractive-index
  • field experiment
  • carbon-dioxide
  • hapex-sahel
  • temperature

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Surface Fluxes and Characteristics of Drying Semi-Arid Terrain in West Africa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this