26 Oct 2020

26 Oct 2020

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Eddies in motion: visualizing boundary-layer turbulence above an open boreal peatland using UAS thermal videos

Pavel Alekseychik1,2, Gabriel Katul3, Ilkka Korpela4, and Samuli Launiainen1 Pavel Alekseychik et al.
  • 1Bioeconomy and Environment, Natural Resources Institute Finland, 00791 Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research/Physics, Faculty of Science, P.O. Box 68, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
  • 3Nicholas School of the Environment, and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
  • 4Department of Forest Sciences, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 27, 00014 University of Helsinki

Abstract. High resolution thermal infrared (TIR) imaging is opening up new vistas in biosphere-atmosphere heat exchange studies. The rapidly developing unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and specially designed TIR cameras offer opportunities for TIR survey with increasingly high resolution, reduced noise, prolonged flight times and better gimbals. A state-of-the-art science platform is assembled using a Matrice 210 V2 drone equipped with a Zenmuse XT2 thermal camera and deployed over a pristine boreal peatland with the aim to test its performance in a heterogeneous ecosystem with short vegetation. The study utilizes the capability of the UAS platform to hover for prolonged times (about 20 min) whilst recording high-frequency (1–30 Hz) TIR videos. A methodology to derive thermal signatures of near-ground coherent turbulent structures impinging on the land surface, surface temperature spectra and heat fluxes from the retrieved videos is developed. The size, residence time and movement of the coherent structures are computed from the surface temperature maps, and their dependency on atmospheric conditions is examined. A ground-based eddy-covariance system and a collocated meteorological setup are used for reference.

Pavel Alekseychik et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)
Status: final response (author comments only)
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment

Pavel Alekseychik et al.

Data sets

UAS nadir thermal video data, Siikaneva peatland, 6 and 28 August 2019 Pavel Alekseychik

Model code and software

UAS nadir thermal video data analysis codes Pavel Alekseychik

Video supplement

UAS nadir thermal videos of surface temperature fluctuation, Siikaneva, 6 and 28 August 2019 Pavel Alekseychik

Pavel Alekseychik et al.


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Short summary
Drone with a thermal camera is a powerful new tool with potential to provide new insights into the atmospheric turbulence and heat fluxes. In a pioneering experiment, a Matrice 210 drone equipped with a Zenmuse XT2 thermal camera was used to record 10–20 min thermal videos over the Siikaneva natural peatland in southern Finland. A method to visualize the turbulent structures and derive their parameters from thermal videos is developed. The study provides a novel approach for turbulence analysis.