Response of surface energy balance to water regime and vegetation development in a Sahelian landscape

Timouk, F.; Kergoat, L.; Mougin, E.; Lloyd, C.R.; Ceschia, E.; Cohard, J.-M.; de Rosnay, P.; Hiernaux, P.; Demarez, V.; Taylor, C.M.. 2009 Response of surface energy balance to water regime and vegetation development in a Sahelian landscape. Journal of Hydrology, 375 (1-2). 178-189.

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The West African monsoon interacts strongly with the land surface, yet knowledge of these interactions is severely limited by the lack of observations of surface energy fluxes. Within the framework of the AMMA project, three eddy covariance flux stations were installed to sample the three main surface types near Hombori (Mali) in the central Sahel at 15.3°N, and a fourth station was installed near Bamba in the northern Sahel at 17.1°N to sample semi-desert conditions. Observed land types near Hombori comprised a grassland growing on sandy soil (near the village of Agoufou), a flooded forest in a clay-soil depression (Kelma), and a bare rocky soil (Eguerit). The energy balance closure at the grassland site was satisfactory, but less so at the flooded forest site. Surface water heat storage during the flood and advection probably were responsible for most of the imbalance. The daily sensible heat flux (H) was fairly constant throughout the year at Bamba and Eguerit, with only a slight increase during the monsoon season corresponding to increased net radiation. By contrast, the seasonal cycle of the grassland site was marked, with H decreasing during the monsoon season from 70 W m−2 in May to 20 W m−2 in August. The flooded woodland exhibited the strongest contrast between the dry and wet seasons, with daily sensible heat flux close to zero during the flood. During the peak monsoon season, the two vegetated sites had the highest net radiation and the lowest sensible heat flux, as a consequence of the strong evapotranspiration rates caused by both high soil moisture availability and high leaf area index. Lateral fluxes of water were found to be strong drivers of inter-site sensible and latent heat fluxes variability, with water leaving bare rocky soils as surface runoff and ending in the clay depressions (e.g., Kelma), whereas the sandy soils were locally endorheic, with most of the rainfall being rapidly returned to the atmosphere. An attempt was made to scale the sensible heat flux up to the scale of the AMMA northern super-site (60 km × 60 km), following a simple scaling scheme, which accounted for the contrasting surface types and water regimes. The super-site average sensible heat flux proved to be close to the grassland sensible heat flux, in part because grassland occupies 55% of the area. A strong spatial variability was caused by the difference in water regime and vegetation type, at a scale large enough to potentially influence the atmospheric properties such as the boundary layer.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biogeochemistry > CC01B Land-surface Feedbacks in the Climate System > CC01.8 Land-surface feedbacks through energy and water cycles
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Harding (to July 2011)
ISSN: 0022-1694
Additional Keywords: Sahel, sensible heat flux, latent heat flux, net radiation, grassland, bare soil, flooded forest, AMMA
NORA Subject Terms: Meteorology and Climatology
Date made live: 26 Oct 2009 12:23 +0 (UTC)

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