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Spatial Distribution of Sensible and Latent Heat Flux in the City of Basel (Switzerland)

Journal article
Authors Christian Feigenwinter
Roland Vogt
Eberhard Parlow
Fredrik Lindberg
Mattia Marconcini
Fabio Del Frate
Nektarios Chrysoulakis
Published in IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing
Volume 11
Issue 8 (S1)
Pages 2717-2723
ISSN 1939-1404
Publication year 2018
Published at Department of Earth Sciences
Pages 2717-2723
Language en
Keywords Aerodynamic resistance method, Earth, earth observation (EO), eddy covariance (EC), GIS, Heating systems, Remote sensing, Rough surfaces, Surface morphology, Surface roughness, Urban areas, urban energy budget, URBANFLUXES
Subject categories Remote Sensing, Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, Physical Geography


IEEE Urban surfaces are a complex mixture of different land covers and surface materials; the relative magnitudes of the surface energy balance components therefore vary widely across a city. Eddy covariance (EC) measurements provide the best estimates of turbulent heat fluxes but are restricted to the source area. Land surface modeling with earth observation (EO) data is beneficial for extrapolation of a larger area since citywide information is possible. Turbulent sensible and latent heat fluxes are calculated by a combination of micrometeorological approaches (the aerodynamic resistance method, ARM), EO data, and GIS techniques. Input data such as land cover fractions and surface temperatures are derived from Landsat 8 OLI and TIRS, urban morphology was calculated from high-resolution digital building models and GIS data layers, and meteorological data were provided by flux tower measurements. Twenty-two Landsat scenes covering all seasons and different meteorological conditions were analyzed. Sensible heat fluxes were highest for industrial areas, railway stations, and areas with high building density, mainly corresponding to the pixels with highest surface-to-air temperature differences. The spatial distribution of latent heat flux is strongly related to the saturation deficit of vapor and the (minimum) stomatal resistance of vegetation types. Seasonal variations are highly dependent on meteorological conditions, i.e., air temperature, water vapor saturation deficit, and wind speed. Comparison of measured fluxes with modeled fluxes in the weighted source area of the flux towers is moderately accurate due to known drawbacks in the modeling approach and uncertainties inherent to EC measurements, particularly in urban areas.

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