Heat Transfer Through Grass: A Diffusive Approach

S.J.A. van der Linden, M.T. Kruis, O.K. Hartogensis, A.F. Moene, F.C. Bosveld, B.J.H. van de Wiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Heat transport through short and closed vegetation such as grass is modelled by a simple diffusion process. The grass is treated as a homogeneous ‘sponge layer’ with uniform thermal diffusivity and conductivity, placed on top of the soil. The temperature and heat-flux dynamics in both vegetation and soil are described using harmonic analysis. All thermal properties have been determined by optimization against observations from the Haarweg climatological station in The Netherlands. Our results indicate that both phase and amplitude of soil temperatures can be accurately reproduced from the vegetation surface temperature. The diffusion approach requires no specific tuning to, for example, the daily cycle, but instead responds to all frequencies present in the input data, including quick changes in cloud cover and day– night transitions. The newly determined heat flux at the atmosphere–vegetation interface is compared with the other components of the surface energy balance at this interface. The budget is well-closed, particularly in the most challenging cases with varying cloud cover and during transition periods. We conclude that the diffusion approach (either implemented analytically or numerically) is a physically consistent alternative to more ad hoc methods, like ‘skin resistance’ approaches for vegetation and bulk correction methods for upper soil heat storage. However, more work is needed to evaluate parameter variability and robustness under different climatological conditions. From a numerical perspective, the present representation of vegetation allows for both slow and rapid feedbacks between the atmosphere and the surface. As such, it would be interesting to couple the present surface parametrization to turbulence-resolving models, such as large-eddy simulations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-276
Number of pages26
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022


4TU.Federation of the Dutch Universities of Technology (the Plantenna program) and European Research Council through an ERC-Consolidator grant (648666).


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