UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A study of the energy balance of a Douglas-fir forest McNaughton, Keith G.


This thesis is in the form of four self contained papers that report aspects of a study of the energy balance of a young Douglas-fir forest growing at the University of British Columbia Research Forest at Haney, B.C. The chapters discuss the experimental methods used and special instrumentation developed, the data analysis, and some attempts to understand the relationships observed by employing simple forest models and ideas on boundary layer equilibration processes. Chapter 1. The psychrometric apparatus design for Bowen ratio determination reported by Sargeant and Tanner was modified and a new apparatus built. Modification of the intake design improved the symmetry and rigidity of the sensor mounting. Wet and dry bulb differences were measured with an error less than 0.01°C over a vertical distance of 1 meter. Continuous measurements of the Bowen ratio over a 7.8-meter Douglas-fir forest were made for 6 weeks. An example of the energy balance for the forest for 1 day using this equipment is reported. Chapter 2. Daily evapotranspiration from a Douglas-fir forest was calculated using Webb's average Bowen ratio method. Webb's method is generalized to include the effects of the diabatic wind profile. Over a 17-day period characterized by light winds, the modified Webb method agreed with the daily totals of half-hour energy balance calculations to within 1 1/2% on the average, while Webb's method overestimated by 26% on the average. Chapter 3. Energy balance measurements of evapotranspiration from a young Douglas-fir forest are reported for a period of 18 days in July 1970 when soil water was not limiting. Peak daily evapotranspiration rates characteristically occurred two to three hours after solar noon and evaoptranspiration showed a short-term independence from net radiation. This behaviour is interpreted as being a consequence of the large forest roughness. Daily evapotranspiration and net radiation were, however, well correlated. Values of surface diffusion resistance calculated from Monteith's combination formula are presented. Daytime values showed significant day-to-day differences and an attempt to define a potential evapotranspiration rate assuming a constant daytime surface resistance was not successful. Comparison of evapotranspiration measurements with a potential evaporation formula for wet surfaces developed by Priestley and Taylor suggests that evaporation of intercepted water proceeds 20% more rapidly than evapotranspiration from the non-wetted canopy. Chapter 4. The process of modification of the Bowen ratio, with distance downwind of a change in surface wetness, is considered with the view to establishing the final equilibrium ratio of the fluxes of sensible and latent heat after advective effects become negligible. A method of generating, from the coupled equations for heat and vapour diffusion, two new diffusion equations in composite variables, which may be solved independently, is developed. The method leads to the conclusions that there is a basic difference between equilibration over land and over water. Also the rate of equilibration depends strongly on atmospheric mixing and hence surface roughness and atmospheric stability. It is concluded that, for terrestial surfaces, the equilibrium evaporation rate is approximated by LE = (S/[s+y])(Rn - G) for 24 hour periods. This result is in accord with some recent experimental findings.

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