21 Jun 2021
21 Jun 2021
Field Testing Two Flux Footprint Models
 ^{1}Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, Lethbridge, Canada, T1J 4B1
 ^{2}Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E3
 ^{3}Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E3
 ^{1}Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, Lethbridge, Canada, T1J 4B1
 ^{2}Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E3
 ^{3}Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada T6G 2E3
Abstract. A field study was undertaken to investigate the accuracy of two micrometeorological flux footprint models when calculating the gas emission rate from a 10 × 10 m synthetic surface area source, based on the vertical flux of gas measured 15 to 50 m downwind of the source. Calculations were made with an easytouse tool based on the KormannMeixner analytical model and with a more sophisticated Lagrangian stochastic dispersion model. A total of 323 10 minute observation periods were measured over 9 days. On average, each of the two models calculated the emission rate to within 10 % of the actual release rate. No clear differences were observed between the two models in terms of overall accuracy.
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Trevor W. Coates et al.
Status: final response (author comments only)

RC1: 'Comment on amt2021106', Albrecht Neftel, 12 Jul 2021
This is a short paper and reports a comparison of two flux footprint models using an artificial CO2 source of a limited areal extension as a known emission source. Technically I judge that everything is correctly made. The results show that both flux print models yield a recovery rates that is statistically not different from one. I could sit back contentedly and rejoice that my simple Footprint Tool based on the KM algorithm still produces satisfactory results. Nevertheless, I think it is appropriate to address some warnings. The findings are based in total on 59 valid 10 minutes intervals. They were divided into three fetchdependent groups. 10 minutes is a short time interval for EC analysis. Consequently, the variability in the recovery rate is large and the fact that the recovery rates are statistically not different from 1 cannot be a strong statement.
I had a look at the data given in the supplement. It is striking that three consecutive data points or one 30minute value of the KM based recovery data for the 30m fetch group are clearly < 1 whereas the other four values are above 1, of course on average around 1. The bls based recovery rates for this group is clearly higher but does not reflect the distinction in two groups. I guess this is the typical behavior of real turbulence. This reminds me the flux simulation with a large eddy simulation approach that demonstrated the possibility of persistent structures lasting longer time that are inexistent in the KM or bls world. This information was presented during a workshop on ammonia measurements (Hensen et al, 2015). I recall the sentence:From the LES simulations we can assume that for time averaging below 15 minutes integration the effect of streaky structures might be detectable on the plot scale. For multi hour averaging on the other hand, the effect might cancel out.”
Footprint corrections are always necessary in case a measured flux over areas with different emissions must be interpreted. The new generation of researchers are generally well trained in computing languages such as R I recommend the use of a bls model because it tends to force the user to think about the micrometeorological boundary conditions. A special package made by Christoph Häni is available (Reference below)
Reference:
the R package bLSmodelR (Häni et al., 2018), available at https://github.com/ChHaeni/bLSmodelR
Hensen, A.; Neftel, A.; Famulari, D.; Carozzi, M.; Jonker, H.; Erisman, J.W.; Huijsmans, J.; Mosquera, J.; Lantinga, E.; Berkhout, A.J.C.; Haan, B. de;
International Workshop on Ammonia Measurements (IWAM)
ECNE14052 april 2015; 47 pag.
AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Thomas Flesch, 02 Sep 2021
Change in Analysis
While addressing the reviewer’s comments, we also made a change to the methodology of our study. The metric to evaluate the footprint models is the ratio of the modelcalculated emission rate to the actual emission rate of the synthetic source (Q_{KM}/Q or Q_{LS}/Q). In the original manuscript we calculated the arithmetic mean, the standard error of mean, and statistical significance assuming a normal distribution of the ratio data (i.e., traditional statistical inferences). It came to our attention that ratio (or normalized) data are more correctly evaluated using the geometric mean, with inferences based on logtransformed data (Fleming and Wallace, 1986; Limpert et al., 2001).
In the revised manuscript we reevaluated our data using the geometric mean as the measure of central tendency, and calculated the 95% confidence intervals for the means using logtransformed data. Details are included in a new section “2.3. Statistical Analysis”. This change did not alter the main conclusions or our study, nor did it alter the dataset included with this study. However, it did somewhat change some of the relationships between the two models, which is reflected in the modified discussion.
Fleming, P.J., and Wallace, J.J.: How not to lie with statistics: the correct way to summarize benchmark results. Communications of the ACM. 29 (3): 218–221. doi:10.1145/5666.5673. S2CID 1047380, 1986.
Limpert, E., Stahel, W.A., and Abbt, M.: Lognormal distributions across the sciences: keys and clues. BioSci. 51, 341352, 2001.
Response to Reviewer Comments
We very much appreciate the feedback, and thank Dr. Neftel for his careful reading of the paper. We respond to specific comments below.
RC1: 'Comment on amt2021106', Albrecht Neftel, 12 Jul 2021
RC1: This is a short paper and reports a comparison of two flux footprint models using an artificial CO_{2} source of a limited areal extension as a known emission source. Technically I judge that everything is correctly made. The results show that both flux print models yield a recovery rates that is statistically not different from one.
I could sit back contentedly and rejoice that my simple Footprint Tool based on the KM algorithm still produces satisfactory results. Nevertheless, I think it is appropriate to address some warnings. The findings are based in total on 59 valid 10 minutes intervals. They were divided into three fetchdependent groups. 10 minutes is a short time interval for EC analysis. Consequently, the variability in the recovery rate is large and the fact that the recovery rates are statistically not different from 1 cannot be a strong statement.
Author Response: There is little to disagree with in Dr. Neftel’s statement.
Yes, 10 minutes (min) is a short interval compared to typical EC studies of surface fluxes, but it does fall within a broad 5 to 60 min averaging interval that has used in micrometeorological studies (e.g., footprint study of Kumari et al., 2020 used a 10 min interval). Given the short fetches in this study, and our experience of insensitivity in LS model accuracy with averaging intervals from 5 to 60 min, we think the conclusions of this paper are also valid for longer averaging periods. We did consider a 20 min averaging time, and found the longer interval resulted in a slight decline in the accuracy of our LS model calculations. But more importantly, the choice of a 20 min interval left fewer than half the number of good observation periods in our data, and accordingly larger statistical uncertainties.
We also agree that with our relatively small dataset, and large periodtoperiod variability in the accuracy of the footprint calculations, the finding that the KM and LS calculations are not different from each other is not a strong statement. We think this is noted in section 3 (e.g., “This suggests that any systematic differences between the models in our study were obscured by the substantial periodtoperiod variability in the Q / Q calculations, and that the detection of model differences would require a much larger observational sample size than we were able to acquire.”). However, the conclusions are still of value. Prior to our experiment, we expected large differences between the KM and LS models, and the demonstrable value of the LS model predictions. It was a surprise not to see large differences, suggesting that experimentalists may not see the advantages of a more complex LS model given the periodtoperiod variability of real world data. This is useful information.
Our results suggest that much larger datasets would be needed to discriminate between footprint models for a configuration like ours. But we note the difficulty of generating large field datasets for this type of comparison. This study does not provide the final word on this subject, but hopefully our dataset (provided as a supplement to the paper) will provide a useful piece of that effort.
Kumari, S., Kambhammettu, B. V. N. P., & Niyogi, D. (2020). Sensitivity of analytical flux footprint models in diverse source‐receptor configurations: A field experimental study. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 125, e2020JG005694. https://doi.org/ 10.1029/2020JG005694
RC1: I had a look at the data given in the supplement. It is striking that three consecutive data points or one 30minute value of the KM based recovery data for the 30m fetch group are clearly < 1 whereas the other four values are above 1, of course on average around 1. The bls based recovery rates for this group is clearly higher but does not reflect the distinction in two groups. I guess this is the typical behavior of real turbulence. This reminds me the flux simulation with a large eddy simulation approach that demonstrated the possibility of persistent structures lasting longer time that are inexistent in the KM or bls world. This information was presented during a workshop on ammonia measurements (Hensen et al, 2015). I recall the sentence: "From the LES simulations we can assume that for time averaging below 15 minutes integration the effect of streaky structures might be detectable on the plot scale. For multi hour averaging on the other hand, the effect might cancel out.”
Author Response: As Dr. Neftel notes, the periodtoperiod variability of our footprint calculations is large and difficult to relate to environmental variables. We agree with his simple explanation: “this is the behaviour of real turbulence”. To be more specific, the KM and LS models are built on a representation of the atmosphere that is true (at best) in an ensemble average sense. They will not reflect the periodtoperiod fluctuations in our dataset. We have made this point in the final sentences of the manuscript, adding:
“However, periodtoperiod variability is the nature of footprint calculations based on simplified models of atmospheric transport like the KM and LS formulations. These model calculations, which at best approximate an ensemble average realization of the atmosphere, will not reflect the periodtoperiod fluctuations of actual measurement periods.”
RC1: Footprint corrections are always necessary in case a measured flux over areas with different emissions must be interpreted. The new generation of researchers are generally well trained in computing languages such as R I recommend the use of a bls model because it tends to force the user to think about the micrometeorological boundary conditions. A special package made by Christoph Häni is available
Author Response: We share Dr. Neftel’s preference for the more sound LS modelling approach, and endorse the LS analysis package by Häni. However, our experience shows that increased processing time is a significant penalty with the LS calculations. In a field study associated with this project, we used an LS footprint model to calculate the EC flux contribution from a field surrounding the EC system. Analyzing two years of EC measurements took several weeks of processing. Some researchers may have difficulty justifying the processing time of LS models relative to the KM calculations given the model agreement seen in our data.

AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Thomas Flesch, 02 Sep 2021

RC2: 'Comment on amt2021106', Thomas Foken, 01 Aug 2021
Footprint models are widely used, but there has been little validation of the models (Leclerc and Foken, 2014). Such publications are very rare, as experimental validation is very costly. This publication is the description of such an experiment. It compares an analytical model (Kormann and Meixner, 2001) and a Lagrangian model (Flesch, 1996;Flesch et al., 2004) – both wellknown model concepts – with a tracer experiment. Although the paper is brief, no methodological shortcomings could be identified. It should be published in the present version, unless the following comments make it possible to add to it.
Thankfully, the measurement data were published in the supplement. A first look at the data showed me that with stable stratification the analytical model agrees particularly badly with the validation data, while the Lagrangian model delivers significantly better results. A similar result was found by Göckede et al. (2005) when comparing the models of Schmid (2002) and Rannik et al. (2004), also mentioned in the paper. Perhaps one could make an addition to the stability dependence analogous to Fig. 2 in Göckede et al. (2005) and thus enhance the contribution somewhat.
At least in the further discussion of the data, attention should be paid to the positions of the maximum of the footprint. A possible explanation for the different agreement depending on fetch could be that the maxima of the footprint fit better with short fetch. This would be an investigation similar to that of Markkanen et al. (2009) for other model types and altitude ranges.
For the quality test of the eddycovariance data, no programme documentation should be cited, but either the original paper (Foken and Wichura, 1996) or the identical book publication (Foken et al., 2012).
References:
Flesch, T. K.: The footprint for flux measurements, from backward Lagrangian stochastic models, BoundaryLayer Meteorol., 78, 399404, doi: 10.1007/BF00120943, 1996.
Flesch, T. K., Wilson, J. D., Harper, L. A., Crenna, B. P., and Sharpe, R. R.: Deducing groundair emissions from observed trace gas concentrations: A field trial, J. Appl. Meteorol., 43, 487502, doi, 2004.
Foken, T., and Wichura, B.: Tools for quality assessment of surfacebased flux measurements, Agric. For. Meteorol., 78, 83105, doi: 10.1016/01681923(95)022481, 1996.
Foken, T., Leuning, R., Oncley, S. P., Mauder, M., and Aubinet, M.: Corrections and data quality in: Eddy Covariance: A Practical Guide to Measurement and Data Analysis, edited by: Aubinet, M., Vesala, T., and Papale, D., Springer, Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, New York, 85131, doi: 10.1007/9789400723511_4, 2012.
Göckede, M., Markkanen, T., Mauder, M., Arnold, K., Leps, J. P., and Foken, T.: Validation of footprint models using natural tracer measurements from a field experiment, Agric. For. Meteorol., 135, 314325, doi, 2005.
Kormann, R., and Meixner, F. X.: An analytical footprint model for nonneutral stratification, BoundaryLayer Meteorol., 99, 207224, doi, 2001.
Leclerc, M. Y., and Foken, T.: Footprints in Micrometeorology and Ecology, Springer, Heidelberg, New York, Dordrecht, London, XIX, 239 pp., doi: 10.1007/9783642545450, 2014.
Markkanen, T., Steinfeld, G., Kljun, N., Raasch, S., and Foken, T.: Comparison of conventional Lagrangian stochastic footprint models against LES driven footprint estimates, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 9, 55755586, doi: 10.5194/acp955752009, 2009.
Rannik, Ü., Keronen, P., Hari, P., and Vesala, T.: Estimation of forestatmosphere CO2 exchange by eddy covariance and profile techniques, Agric. For. Meteorol., 126, 141155, doi, 2004.
Schmid, H. P.: Footprint modeling for vegetation atmosphere exchange studies: A review and perspective, Agric. For. Meteorol., 113, 159184, doi, 2002.

AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Thomas Flesch, 02 Sep 2021
Change in Analysis
While addressing the reviewer’s comments, we also made a change to the methodology of our study. The metric to evaluate the footprint models is the ratio of the modelcalculated emission rate to the actual emission rate of the synthetic source (Q_{KM}/Q or Q_{LS}/Q). In the original manuscript we calculated the arithmetic mean, the standard error of mean, and statistical significance assuming a normal distribution of the ratio data (i.e., traditional statistical inferences). It came to our attention that ratio (or normalized) data are more correctly evaluated using the geometric mean, with inferences based on logtransformed data (Fleming and Wallace, 1986; Limpert et al., 2001).
In the revised manuscript we reevaluated our data using the geometric mean as the measure of central tendency, and calculated the 95% confidence intervals for the means using logtransformed data. Details are included in a new section “2.3 Statistical Analysis”. This change did not alter the main conclusions or our study, nor did it alter the dataset included with this study. However, it did somewhat change some of the relationships between the two models, which is reflected in the modified discussion.
Fleming, P.J., and Wallace, J.J.: How not to lie with statistics: the correct way to summarize benchmark results. Communications of the ACM. 29 (3): 218–221. doi:10.1145/5666.5673. S2CID 1047380, 1986.
Limpert, E., Stahel, W.A., and Abbt, M.: Lognormal distributions across the sciences: keys and clues. BioSci. 51, 341352, 2001.
We very much appreciate the feedback, and thank Dr. Foken for his careful reading of the paper. We respond to his comments below.
RC2: 'Comment on amt2021106', Thomas Foken, 01 Aug 2021
RC2: Footprint models are widely used, but there has been little validation of the models (Leclerc and Foken, 2014). Such publications are very rare, as experimental validation is very costly. This publication is the description of such an experiment. It compares an analytical model (Kormann and Meixner, 2001) and a Lagrangian model (Flesch, 1996;Flesch et al., 2004) – both wellknown model concepts – with a tracer experiment. Although the paper is brief, no methodological shortcomings could be identified. It should be published in the present version, unless the following comments make it possible to add to it.
Author Response: We thank Dr. Foken for his encouragement. Yes, this type of experiment is difficult, and a great deal of effort and expense was required to get good (testable) observations (e.g., multiple source realignments in response to changing winds, cold weather freezing gas regulators, equipment issues). Regardless of these difficulties, in retrospect the weakness of the study is the limited number of observations. The most valuable aspect of this work is likely to be our dataset, which could be built upon by others and provide for a more robust examination of footprint models.
RC2: Thankfully, the measurement data were published in the supplement. A first look at the data showed me that with stable stratification the analytical model agrees particularly badly with the validation data, while the Lagrangian model delivers significantly better results. A similar result was found by Göckede et al. (2005) when comparing the models of Schmid (2002) and Rannik et al. (2004), also mentioned in the paper. Perhaps one could make an addition to the stability dependence analogous to Fig. 2 in Göckede et al. (2005) and thus enhance the contribution somewhat.
Author Response: We added Figure 3 to the manuscript showing the model comparisons versus stability. Dr. Foken is correct that the KM results are inaccurate in stable conditions (the mean Q_{KM}/Q = 0.36). However, the LS results are similarly inaccurate ( Q_{LS}/Q= 0.44) in these conditions. It is interesting that these results disagree with the calculations made by Göckede et al. (2005), who found large differences in calculations from the two models in stable conditions. The similarity is also surprising given the substantial differences in the stable KM and LS footprint functions calculated by Wilson (2015).
We have added a reference to the Göckede et al. paper, indicating the surprising result that our measurements could not discriminate between the two models (end of the results section):
"There are no clear patterns in terms of explaining the differences between the two footprint models based on environmental factors. Whether we separate the data by fetch or by stability, the results from the two models are not statistically different from each other. Windspeed, roughness length, and wind direction were also considered as factors to explain the model differences, but again, no pattern was observed. This lack of model differences was unexpected given the studies of Göckede et al. (2005) and Wilson (2015) showing large differences in the calculations between analytical and LS models. This suggests that in our study, any systematic differences between the models were obscured by the substantial periodtoperiod variability in the Q / Q calculations, and that the detection of model differences would require a much larger observational sample size than we were able to acquire."
RC2: At least in the further discussion of the data, attention should be paid to the positions of the maximum of the footprint. A possible explanation for the different agreement depending on fetch could be that the maxima of the footprint fit better with short fetch. This would be an investigation similar to that of Markkanen et al. (2009) for other model types and altitude ranges.
Author Response: The suggestion to look in detail at the footprint function (vs. fetch) is good, although we see this as of secondary importance given our simple objective of determining if the accuracy of the LS model was better than the KM model for our dataset (and to provide a short description of our dataset for others to use). Further analyses of the footprint functions would require substantially more analysis, and would duplicate the analysis of Wilson (2015). For example, Wilson’s Figure 3 shows the difference between the KM and LS footprint functions for stable conditions in a configuration that has some similarity to ours (z_{0} = 0.01 m, z_{sonic} = 2 m, L = 25 m). The peak of the LS footprint function is near x = 20 m, while the KM peak is near x = 26 m. Here the peak position is similar between the models, and midway between the short and medium fetches, however, it is unclear if this difference in peak position affected the Q/Q ratios.
Wilson, J.D.: Computing the Flux Footprint, BoundaryLayer Meteorol., 156, 114, https://doi.org/10.1007/s1054601500179, 2015.
For the quality test of the eddy covariance data, no programme documentation should be cited, but either the original paper (Foken and Wichura, 1996) or the identical book publication (Foken et al., 2012).
We have made the suggested change regarding the citation for quality testing of the eddy covariance data.

AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Thomas Flesch, 02 Sep 2021
Trevor W. Coates et al.
Trevor W. Coates et al.
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