W. D. Nichols

The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, United States

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Publications (10)24.29 Total impact

  • A. Chehbouni · W.D. Nichols · E.G. Njoku · J. Qi · Y.H. Kerr · F. Cabot
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    ABSTRACT: It is now recognized that accurate partitioning of available energy into sensible and latent heat flux is crucial to understanding surface‐atmosphere interactions. This issue is more complicated in arid and semi‐arid regions where the relative contribution to surface fluxes from the soil and vegetation may vary significantly throughout the day and throughout the season. The objective of this paper is to present a three‐component model to estimate sensible heat flux over heterogeneous surfaces. The surface was represented with two adjacent compartments. The first compartment is made up of two components, shrubs and shaded soil; the second compartment consists of bare, unshaded soil. Data collected at two different sites in Nevada during the summers of 1991 and 1992 were used to evaluate model performance. The results show that the present model is sufficiently general to yield satisfactory results for both sites.
    No preview · Article · Feb 1997 · Remote Sensing Reviews
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    ABSTRACT: Measurements of sensible heat flux, radiometric surface temperature, air temperature, and wind speed made at eight semiarid rangeland sites were used to investigate the sensible heat flux-aerodynamic resistance relationship. The individual sites covered a wide range of vegetation (0.1-4 m tall) and cover (3%-95% bare soil) conditions. Mean values of k/B, a quantity related to the resistance of heat versus momentum transfer at the surface, for the individual sites varied between 3.5 and 12.5. A preliminary test of the utility of an excess resistance based on the mean value of k/B showed that the difference between the mean estimated and measured sensible heat fluxes varied +/- 60 W/sq m for the eight semiarid sites. For the eight sites the values of k/B were plotted against the roughness Reynolds number. The plot showed considerable scatter with values ranging between and beyond the theoretical curves for bluff rough and permeable rough surfaces.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 1994 · Journal of Applied Meteorology
  • K. S. Humes · W. P. Kustas · M. S. Moran · W. D. Nichols · M. A. Weltz
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    ABSTRACT: Radiometric surface temperatures obtained from remote sensing measurements are a function of both the physical surface temperature and the effective emissivity of the surface within the band pass of the radiometric measurement. For sparsely vegetated areas, however, a sensor views significant fractions of both bare soil and various vegetation types. In this case the radiometric response of a sensor is a function of the emissivities and kinetic temperatures of various surface elements, the proportion of those surface elements within the field of view of the sensor, and the interaction of radiation emitted from the various surface components. In order to effectively utilize thermal remote sensing data to quantify energy balance components for a sparsely vegetated area, it is important to examine the typical magnitude and degree of variability of emissivity and surface temperature for such surfaces. Surface emissivity measurements and ground and low-altitude-aircraft-based surface temperature measurements (8–13 μm band pass) made in conjunction with the Monsoon '90 field experiment were used to evaluate the typical variability of those quantities during the summer rainy season in a semiarid watershed. The average value for thermal band emissivity of the exposed bare soil portions of the surface was found to be approximately 0.96; the average value measured for most of the varieties of desert shrubs present was approximately 0.99. Surface composite emissivity was estimated to be approximately 0.98 for both the grass-dominated and shrub-dominated portions of the watershed. The spatial variability of surface temperature was found to be highly dependent on the spatial scale of integration for the instantaneous field of view (IFOV) of the instrument, the spatial scale of the total area under evaluation, and the time of day. For the conditions which existed during most of the Monsoon '90 experiment, the differences in kinetic (physical) temperature between the vegetation and soil background were typically between 10° and 25°C at midday. These differences gave rise to large variations in radiometric composite surface temperatures observed with a ground-based instrument configuration which allowed a ground IFOV of approximately 0.5 m. An evaluation of the frequency distribution for these observations indicated that the variance in surface temperature observed over an intensively sampled target area (approximately 500 m×120 m) increased significantly in the early to late morning hours of a typical diurnal heating cycle. For aircraft-based composite radiometric temperature measurements at the watershed scale (with ground IFOV of approximately 40 m for each observation), much of the variability in surface temperature due to differences in soil and vegetation temperature was integrated into a single measurement; consequently, the variance between observations over the watershed was not significantly larger than those observed at length scales of 100 m.
    No preview · Article · May 1994
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    ABSTRACT: An interdisciplinary field experiment was conducted to study the water and energy balance of a semiarid rangeland watershed in southeast Arizona during the summer of 1990. Two subwatersheds, one grass dominated and the other shrub dominated, were selected for intensive study with ground-based remote sensing systems and hydrometeorological instrumentation. Surface energy balance was evaluated at both sites using direct and indirect measurements of the turbulent fluxes (eddy correlation, variance, and Bowen ratio methods) and using an aerodynamic approach based on remote measurements of surface reflectance and temperature and conventional meteorological information. Estimates of net radiant flux density (Rn), derived from measurements of air temperature, incoming solar radiation, and surface temperature and radiance compared well with values measured using a net radiometer (mean absolute difference (MAD ~=50 W/m2 over a range from 115 to 670 W/m2). Soil heat flux density (G) was estimated using a relation between G/Rn and a spectral vegetation index computed from the red and near-infrared surface reflectance. These G estimates compared well with conventional measurements of G using buried soil heat flux plates (MAD ~=20 W/m2 over a range from -13 to 213 W/m2). In order to account for the effects of sparse vegetation, semiempirical adjustments to the single-layer bulk aerodynamic resistance approach were required for evaluation of sensible heat flux density (H). This yielded differences between measurements and remote estimates of H of approximately 33 W/m2 over a range from 13 to 303 W/m2. The resulting estimates of latent heat flux density, LE, were of the same magnitude and trend as measured values; however, a significant scatter was still observed: MAD ~=40 W/m2 over a range from 0 to 340 W/m2. Because LE was solved as a residual, there was a cumulative effect of errors associated with remote estimates of Rn, G, and H.
    Preview · Article · May 1994
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    ABSTRACT: A network of 9-m-tall surface flux measurement stations were deployed at eight sparsely vegetated sites during the Monsoon '90 experiment to measure net radiation, Q, soil heat flux, G, sensible heat flux, H (using eddy correlation), and latent heat flux, λE (using the energy balance equation). At four of these sites, 2-m-tall eddy correlation systems were used to measure all four fluxes directly. Also a 2-m-tall Bowen ratio system was deployed at one site. Magnitudes of the energy balance closure (Q + G + H + λE) increased as the complexity of terrain increased. The daytime Bowen ratio decreased from about 10 before the monsoon season to about 0.3 during the monsoons. Source areas of the measurements are developed and compared to scales of heterogeneity arising from the sparse vegetation and the topography. There was very good agreement among simultaneous measurements of Q with the same model sensor at different heights (representing different source areas), but poor agreement among different brands of sensors. Comparisons of simultaneous measurements of G suggest that because of the extremely small source area, extreme care in sensor deployment is necessary for accurate measurement in sparse canopies. A recently published model to estimate fetch is used to interpret measurements of H at the 2 m and 9 m heights. Three sites were characterized by undulating topography, with ridgetops separated by about 200-600 m. At these sites, sensors were located on ridgetops, and the 9-m fetch included the adjacent valley, whereas the 2-m fetch was limited to the immediate ridgetop and hillside. Before the monsoons began, vegetation was mostly dormant, the watershed was uniformly hot and dry, and the two measurements of H were in close agreement. After the monsoons began and vegetation fully matured, the 2-m measurements of H were significantly greater than the 9-m measurements, presumably because the vegetation in the valleys was denser and cooler than on the ridgetops and hillsides. At one lowland site with little topographic relief, the vegetation was more uniform, and the two measurements of H were in close agreement during peak vegetation. Values of λE could only be compared at two sites, but the 9-m values were greater than the 2-m values, suggesting λE from the dense vegetation in the valleys was greater than elsewhere.
    No preview · Article · May 1994 · Water Resources Research
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    ABSTRACT: A network of meteorological stations was installed during the Monsoon '90 field campaign in the Walnut Gulch experimental watershed. The study area has a fairly complex surface. The vegetation cover is heterogeneous and sparse, and the terrain is mildly hilly, but dissected by ephemeral channels. Besides measurement of some of the standard weather data such as wind speed, air temperature, and solar radiation, these sites also contained instruments for estimating the local surface energy balance. The approach utilized measurements of net radiation (Rn), soil heat flux (G) and Monin-Obukhov similarity theory applied to first- and second-order turbulent statistics of wind speed and temperature for determining the sensible heat flux (H). The latent heat flux (LE) was solved as a residual in the surface energy balance equation, namely, LE = −(Rn + G + H). This procedure (VAR-RESID) for estimating the energy fluxes satisfied monetary constraints and the requirement for low maintenance and continued operation through the harsh environmental conditions experienced in semiarid regions. Comparison of energy fluxes using this approach with more traditional eddy correlation techniques showed differences were within 20% under unstable conditions. Similar variability in flux estimates over the study area was present in the eddy correlation data. Hence, estimates of H and LE using the VAR-RESID approach under unstable conditions were considered satisfactory. Also, with second-order statistics of vertical velocity collected at several sites, the local momentum roughness length was estimated. This is an important parameter used in modeling the turbulent transfer of momentum and sensible heat fluxes across the surface-atmosphere interface.
    No preview · Article · May 1994
  • A. Chehbouni · W. D. Nichols · J. Qi · E.G. Njoku · Y.H. Kerr · F. Cabot
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The accurate partitioning of available energy into sensible and latent heat flux is crucial to the understanding of surface atmosphere interactions. This issue is more complicated in arid and semi arid regions where the relative contribution to surface fluxes from the soil and vegetation may vary significantly throughout the day and throughout the season. A three component model to estimate sensible heat flux over heterogeneous surfaces is presented. The surface was represented with two adjacent compartments. The first compartment is made up of two components, shrubs and shaded soil, the second of open 'illuminated' soil. Data collected at two different sites in Nevada (U.S.) during the Summers of 1991 and 1992 were used to evaluate model performance. The results show that the present model is sufficiently general to yield satisfactory results for both sites.
    No preview · Article · Feb 1994

  • No preview · Article · Jan 1994
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    Full-text · Article · Nov 1991 · Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
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    ABSTRACT: Conventional methods of measuring surface energy balance are point measurements and represent only a small area. Remote sensing offers a potential means of measuring outgoing fluxes over large areas at the spatial resolution of the sensor. The objective of this study was to estimate net radiation (Rn) and soil heat flux (G) using remotely sensed multispectral data acquired from an aircraft over large agricultural fields. Ground-based instruments measured Rn and G at nine locations along the flight lines. Incoming fluxes were also measured by ground-based instruments. Outgoing fluxes were estimated using remotely sensed data. Remote Rn, estimated as the algebraic sum of incoming and outgoing fluxes, slightly underestimated Rn measured by the ground-based net radiometers. The mean absolute errors for remote Rn minus measured Rn were less than 7%. Remote G, estimated as a function of a spectral vegetation index and remote Rn, slightly overestimated measured G; however, the mean absolute error for remote G was 13%. Some of the differences between measured and remote values of Rn and G are associated with differences in instrument designs and measurement techniques. The root mean square error for available energy (Rn - G) was 12%. Thus, methods using both ground-based and remotely sensed data can provide reliable estimates of the available energy which can be partitioned into sensible and latent heat under nonadvective conditions.
    Full-text · Article · May 1990 · Remote Sensing of Environment