New Publication: Inertial Sublayer over the Amazon Rainforest?

The Amazon rainforest interacts with the atmosphere by exchanging many substances. Many of these, such as carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, and organic compounds, are produced by the vegetation. They are very influential in both the regional and global climates. Until now, the estimates of their emission and absorption rates are based on classical theories. But those were developed over relatively short vegetation and are valid for the so-called the “inertial sublayer.”

Cléo Quaresma Dias‐Júnior and co-authors now checked if such an inertial sublayer even exists over the Amazon, where trees grow much higher. With an average tree height of some 40 meters, they expected it at around 100 meter above the forest floor.

They measured a number of atmospheric parameters that typically change between layers at different heights of the ATTO 80m tower and the Tall Tower. However, they found no evidence that such an inertial sublayer exists. Instead the roughness sublayer (the layer directly above the surface) directly merges with the convective mixed layer above. Crucially, this means that new methods and theories will be needed to address the absence of the inertial sublayer to improve the estimates of fluxes over the Amazon rainforest.

The paper was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters: 10.1029/2019GL083237

Similar articles

Air inlet tube at the top of the ATTO tall tower. © Eva Pfannerstill / MPI-C

Biogenic volatile organic compounds remove OH from the atmosphere through chemical reactions, which affects processes such as cloud formation. In a new study, Pfannerstill et al. reveal the important contributions of previously not-considered BVOCs species and underestimated OVOCs to the total OH reactivity.

Os eventos da Friagem trazem muitas nuvens e muita chuva com eles. © Steffen Schmidt / MPI-BGC

Although located in the tropics, the Amazon sporadically experiences incursions of cold waves called friagem events. They significantly impact the weather patterns during the time they occur, causing for example a temperature drop and increased cloudiness. Guilherme Camarinha-Neto and his colleagues now found that they also affect atmospheric chemistry.

The majority of global precipitation is formed through the pathway of ice nucleation, but we’re facing large knowledge gaps that include the distribution, seasonal variations and sources of ice-nucleating particles. To fill some of those knowledge gaps, Jann Schrod and his co-authors produced a record of long-term measurements of INPs. They collected data for nearly two years at four different locations. One of those sites was ATTO.

The shadow and the light of a low sun highlight the gentle topography under the Amazon forest, which affects atmospheric turbulence. © Paulo Brando

Chamecki and his co-authors analyzed if the gentle topography underneath the Amazon rainforest impacts atmospheric turbulence. They published their results Open Access in the Journal of the Atmospheric Science.

convective storm over the forest

Convective storms often occur in the tropics and have the potential to disturb the lower part of the atmosphere. They might even improve the venting of trace gases out of the forest canopy into the atmosphere above. To better understand these processes, Maurício Oliveira and co-authors used the infrastructure at ATTO to study storm outflows during nighttime. They published the results in a new paper in the Open Access Journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

The footprint region of ATTO shifts from pristine northeast to more human influenced southeast

Christopher Pöhlker and co-authors published an extensive new paper, characterizing the footprint region of ATTO. They hope that fellow researchers in the Amazon region can use this publication as resource and reference work to embed ATTO observations into a larger context of Amazonian deforestation and land-use change. Pöhlker et al. published the paper Open Access in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Volume 19.

Aquino et al. published a new study in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology about the characteristics of turbulence within the forest canopy at two Amazonian sites. They found that the air layer close to ground is largly decouples from the air layer in the upper canopy and above.