Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors (CHEESEHEAD19)

NSF Field Experiment: Spring-Fall 2019

  • NSF, Physical and Dynamic Meteorology, Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors AGS-1822420, $1,495,770, 7/1/18-6/30/21
  • PIs: Ankur R Desai, Stefan Metzger (Battelle Ecology), Grant Petty, Phil Townsend (Forest and Wildlife Ecology), Mark Schwartz (UW-Milwaukee), Rose Pertzborn (SSEC)
  • Staff: Jonathan Thom (SSEC), Ke Xu (U Michigan), Ryan Clare (UW-Madison), Sreenath Paleri (UW-Madison)
  • Instrument, Education and Site Leads:
    • SPARC (SSEC): Tim Wagner, Erik Olson, Wayne Feltz
    • University of Wyoming King Air: Al Rodi, Zhien Wang
    • UW Ultralight: Grant Petty (UW-Madison)
    • UW Spectral Explorer: Phil Townsend (UW-Madison)
    • NCAR Instrumented Surface Flux Facilities: Steve Oncley (NCAR)
    • NCAR Integrated Sounding System: Bill Brown (NCAR)
    • KIT IMK-IFU Wind Lidar and LES development: Matthias Mauder (KIT)
    • NEON Mobile Deployment Platform, Ameriflux mobile systems
    • Field support: Linda Parker (USFS), Scott Bowe (Kemp Natural Resources Station)
    • Existing tall tower partners: Arlyn Andrews/Jon Kofler (NOAA GHG, flasks, airborne profiles), Paul Wennberg/Gretchen Keppel-Aleks (TCCON), Marek Zreda (COSMOS)
    • Education/outreach: Rose Pertzborn (SSEC/GLOBE), Jon Martin (Northland College), Mike Notaro (CCR), April Hiscox (U South Carolina), Butternut, WI school district, CLASS ACT charter school (Park Falls, WI)
  • Research collaborators: Paul Stoy (Montana State), Fabien Gibert (LMD Polytechnique), Ken Davis (Penn State)



The living biosphere interacts with atmospheric processes at a multitude of scales. Understanding these processes requires integration of multiple observations for comparison to theories embedded in atmospheric models. But, all observations mismatch the scale of all models. Therefore, spatial and temporal scaling of surface fluxes is fundamental to how we evaluate theories on what happens within the sub-grid of atmospheric models and how those feed back onto larger scale dynamics. The Chequamegon Heterogeneous Ecosystem Energy-balance Study Enabled by a High-density Extensive Array of Detectors (CHEESEHEAD) is an intensive field-campaign designed specifically to address long-standing puzzles regarding the role of atmospheric boundary-layer responses to scales of spatial heterogeneity in surface-atmosphere heat and water exchanges.

The field campaign will be held mid summer to early fall 2019 in a 10 km x10 km domain around the existing Park Falls, WI, WLEF 400?m very tall tower Ameriflux/NOAA supersite which has four existing long-running flux towers. Multi-scale observations will analyze how the planetary boundary layer develops with varying spatial patterns of energy flux, test the relationship between eddy-covariance (EC) flux tower surface energy balance closure and mesoscale atmospheric properties, and evaluate parametric and machine-learning-based methods for scaling surface energy fluxes for improving model- data comparison. The three-month period allows for observing the evolution of the land surface from latent-heat flux dominated to sensible-heat flux dominated as vegetation senesces across the landscape.

The project involves deployment of the National Science Foundation Lower Atmosphere Observing Facility (LAOF) Integrated Surface Flux System. This first-of-its-kind very high-density (17+ tower) EC flux tower network will intensively sample surface energy fluxes across a heterogeneous forest landscape representative of much of the mid-latitudes. Student observers will sample phenology and vegetation at the tower sites. Airborne spectroscopy imaging will map leaf chemistry and canopy properties for scaling purposes. Atmospheric profiles will be observed at the tall tower with the LAOF Integrated Sounding System, radiosondes, the University of Wisconsin SPARC AERI, HSRL, ceilometer and wind LiDAR , and the contributed instruments from collaborators. Two seven-day intensive observation periods will include University of Wyoming King Air to map EC fluxes and planetary boundary-layer depth and an ultralight aircraft for atmospheric profiles. These observations will be used to test flux tower scaling, observe atmospheric mesoscale patterning, and evaluate large eddy simulations (LES).

Intellectual Merit: The high-density observing network is coupled to LES and machine-learning scaling-experiments to better understand sub-mesoscale responses and improve numerical weather and climate prediction formulations of sub-grid processes. This project will advance spatiotemporal scaling methods for heterogeneous land surface properties and fluxes and theories on the scales at which the lower atmosphere responds to surface heterogeneity. CHEESEHEAD aims to provide a level of observation density and instrumentation reliability never previously achieved to test and develop hypotheses on spatial heterogeneity and atmosphere feedbacks.

Broader Impacts: The proposed experiment generates knowledge that advances the science of surface flux measurement and modeling, relevant to many scientific applications such as numerical weather prediction, climate change, energy resources, and computational fluid dynamics. We intend to train next generation land- atmosphere graduate and undergraduate students. Field support outreach and teacher training is included via middle, high school, and undergraduate student involvement at nearby schools and colleges in coordination with the GLOBE program, Northland College, and local school districts. The database of observations and models will be made immediately available to the community and public for general use for further scientific advancement.

Media Coverage


  • We are hiring a post-doc!
  • Interested students who want to do a Ph.D. please contact Ankur Desai

Publications and presentations

  • Scaling of the Carbon, Energy Exchange, and Evapotranspiration over Heterogeneous Ecosystems
    • Ke Xu, UW AOS Special Seminar (PhD defense) Mar 16, 2018
  • How many flux towers are enough? How elaborate of a scaling is enough?
    • Ke Xu, Session B24D , AGU Fall 2017 Meeting, New Orleans, LA USA, Dec 12, 2017
  • Don’t we have enough flux towers already?
    • Land, Atmoshere, Water Research Seminar, UC-Davis, Davis, CA, Oct 25, 2017
  • How many flux towers are enough? Energy balance closure and large eddy simulation as diagnostic tools for secondary circulations
    • AMS 22nd Meeting on Boundary Layers and Turbulence, Salt Lake City, UT, Jun 21, 2016
  • Xu, K., Sühring, M., Metzger, S., Durden,D., Desai, A.R., 2018. Can data mining help eddy-covariance see the landscape? A large-eddy simulation study, Boundary-Layer Meteorology, #BOUN-D-18-00116, submitted.
  • Sühring, M., Metzger, S., Xu, K., and Desai, A.R., 2018. Tradeoffs in flux dis-aggregation: a large-eddy simulation study. Boundary Layer Meteorology, #BOUN-D-18-00045, accepted.
  • Xu, K., Metzger, S., Desai, A.R., 2018 Surface-atmosphere exchange in a box: Space-time resolved storage and net vertical fluxes from tower-based eddy covariance. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 255, 81-91, doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2017.10.011. (link) (companion from Metzger et al)
  • Xu, K., Metzger, S., Desai, A.R., 2017. Upscaling tower-observed turbulent exchange at fine spatio- temporal resolution using environmental response functions. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology, 232:10-22, doi:10.1016/j.agrformet.2016.07.019. (link)


-- AnkurDesai - 2018-06-19

Topic revision: r9 - 2018-09-14 - 18:52:08 - AnkurDesai
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