Estimation of urban sensible heat flux using a dense wireless network of observations

Daniel F. Nadeau, W. Brutsaert, M. B. Parlange, Elie R. Bou-Zeid, G. Barrenetxea, O. Couach, M. O. Boldi, J. S. Selker, M. Vetterli

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46 Scopus citations


The determination of the sensible heat flux over urban terrain is challenging due to irregular surface geometry and surface types. To address this, in 2006-07, a major field campaign (LUCE) took place at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne campus, a moderately occupied urban site. A distributed network of 92 wireless weather stations was combined with routine atmospheric profiling, offering high temporal and spatial resolution meteorological measurements. The objective of this study is to estimate the sensible heat flux over the built environment under convective conditions. Calculations were based on Monin-Obukhov similarity for temperature in the surface layer. The results illustrate a good agreement between the sensible heat flux inferred from the thermal roughness length approach and independent calibrated measurements from a scintillometer located inside the urban canopy. It also shows that using only one well-selected station can provide a good estimate of the sensible heat flux over the campus for convective conditions. Overall, this study illustrates how an extensive network of meteorological measurements can be a useful tool to estimate the sensible heat flux in complex urban environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)635-653
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Fluid Mechanics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


  • Monin-Obukhov similarity
  • Network of weather stations
  • Profile technique
  • Sensible heat flux
  • Thermal roughness length
  • Urban environment


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