Nocturnal cooling below a forest canopy: Model and evaluation

N. J. Froelich, C. S. B. Grimmond, H. P. Schmid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Nocturnal cooling of air within a forest canopy and the resulting temperature profile may drive local thermally driven motions, such as drainage flows, which are believed to impact measurements of ecosystem-atmosphere exchange. To model such flows, it is necessary to accurately predict the rate of cooling. Cooling occurs primarily due to radiative heat loss. However, much of the radiative loss occurs at the surface of canopy elements (leaves, branches, and boles of trees), while radiative divergence in the canopy air space is small due to high transmissivity of air. Furthermore, sensible heat exchange between the canopy elements and the air space is slow relative to radiative fluxes. Therefore, canopy elements initially cool much more quickly than the canopy air space after the switch from radiative gain during the day to radiative loss during the night. Thus in modeling air cooling within a canopy, it is not appropriate to neglect the storage change of heat in the canopy elements or even to assume equal rates of cooling of the canopy air and canopy elements. Here a simple parameterization of radiatively driven cooling of air within the canopy is presented, which accounts implicitly for radiative cooling of the canopy volume, heat storage in the canopy elements, and heat transfer between the canopy elements and the air. Simulations using this parameterization are compared to temperature data from the Morgan-Monroe State Forest (IN, USA) FLUXNET site. While the model does not perfectly reproduce the measured rates of cooling, particularly near the top of the canopy, the simulated cooling rates are of the correct order of magnitude. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)957 - 968
Number of pages12
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2011


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