In this study, the spatial representativeness of eddy covariance (EC) methane (CH4) measurements was examined by comparing parallel CH4 fluxes from three short (6 m) towers separated by a few kilometres and from two higher levels (20 m and 60 m) at one location. The measurement campaign was held on an intensively managed grassland on peat soil in the Netherlands. The land use and land cover types are to a large degree homogeneous in the area.
The CH4 fluxes exhibited significant variability between the sites on 30-min scale. The spatial coefficient of variation (CVspa) between the three short towers was 56% and it was of similar magnitude as the temporal variability, unlike for the other fluxes (friction velocity, sensible heat flux) for which the temporal variability was considerably larger than the spatial variability. The CVspa decreased with temporal averaging, although less than what could be expected for a purely random process image, and it was 14% for 26-day means of CH4 flux. This reflects the underlying heterogeneity of CH4 flux in the studied landscape at spatial scales ranging from 1 ha (flux footprint) to 10 km2 (area bounded by the short towers). This heterogeneity should be taken into account when interpreting and comparing EC measurements. On an annual scale, the flux spatial variability contributed up to 50% of the uncertainty in CH4 emissions. It was further tested whether EC flux measurements at higher levels could be used to acquire a more accurate estimate of the spatially integrated CH4 emissions. Contrarily to what was expected, flux intensity was found to both increase and decrease depending on measurement height. Using footprint modelling, 56% of the variation between 6 m and 60 m CH4 fluxes was attributed to emissions from local anthropogenic hotspots (farms). Furthermore, morning hours proved to be demanding for the tall tower EC where fluxes at 60 m were up to four-fold those at lower heights. These differences were connected with the onset of convective mixing during the morning period.
O Peltola, A Hensen, L Belelli Marchesini, C Helfter, FC Bosveld, WCM van den Bulk, S Haapanala, J van Huissteden, T Laurila, A Lindroth, E Nemitz, T Röckmann, AT Vermeulen, I Mammarella. Studying the spatial variability of methane flux with five eddy covariance towers of varying Height
published, Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 2015, 214