Accounting for Turbulence-Induced Canopy Heat Transfer in the Simulation of Sensible Heat Flux in SEBS Model

Sammy M. Njuki*, C.M. Mannaerts, Zhongbo Su

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Surface turbulent heat fluxes are crucial for monitoring drought, heat waves, urban heat islands, agricultural water management, and other hydrological applications. Energy Balance Models (EBMs) are widely used to simulate surface heat fluxes from a combination of remote sensing-derived variables and meteorological data. Single-source EBMs, in particular, are preferred in mapping surface turbulent heat fluxes due to their relative simplicity. However, most single-source EBMs suffer from uncertainties inherent to the parameter (Formula presented.), which is used to account for differences in the source of heat and the sink of momentum when representing aerodynamic resistance in single-source EBMs. For instance, the parameterization of (Formula presented.) in the commonly used single-source Surface Energy Balance System (SEBS) model uses a constant value of the foliage heat transfer coefficient ((Formula presented.)), in the parameterization of the vegetation component of (Formula presented.) ((Formula presented.)). Thus, SEBS ignores the effect of turbulence on canopy heat transfer. As a result, SEBS has been found to greatly underestimate sensible heat flux in tall forest canopies, where turbulence is a key contributor to canopy heat transfer. This study presents a revised parameterization of (Formula presented.) for the SEBS model. A physically based formulation of (Formula presented.), which considers the effect of turbulence on (Formula presented.), is used in deriving the revised parameterization. Simulation results across 15 eddy covariance (EC) flux tower sites show that the revised parameterization significantly reduces the underestimation of sensible heat flux compared to the original parameterization under tall forest canopies. The revised parameterization is relatively simple and does not require additional information on canopy structure compared to some more complex parameterizations proposed in the literature. As such, the revised parameterization is suitable for mapping surface turbulent heat fluxes, especially under tall forest canopies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1578
JournalRemote sensing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2023


  • EBMs
  • foliage heat transfer coefficient
  • kB
  • SEBS
  • surface turbulent heat fluxes


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