A novel approach for the estimation of soil ground heat flux

Zhihua Wang, Elie Bou-Zeid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Most conventional numerical schemes for soil ground heat flux estimation rely on the knowledge of the temporal evolution of soil temperature. Here we propose and test a novel scheme, which requires no information on soil temperatures to supplement the flux plate measurement. The proposed method is based on the fundamental solution of the one-dimensional heat equation and Duhamel's principle for the incorporation of inhomogeneous boundary conditions. Being completely independent of the soil temperature, the new scheme therefore avoids a potential source of error in measurements and in heat storage calculation. The only thermal property involved in the new scheme is the thermal diffusivity of the soil, which is a weak function of soil water content and can be approximated as constant with reasonable accuracy. For validation, the proposed method is compared to the conventional approach using a canonical one-dimensional heat conduction problem, as well as real field measurements. Results of the comparison highlight that the new model is robust and capable of preserving the good accuracy of the conventional approach with reduced input information. In addition, the effect of inclusion of the heat storage term in the ground heat flux is evaluated in the context of surface energy balance closure for field measurements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214
Number of pages1
JournalAgricultural and Forest Meteorology
StatePublished - Mar 15 2012


  • Ground heat flux
  • Heat conduction
  • Soil heat storage
  • Soil temperature
  • Soil water content
  • Surface energy budget closure
  • Thermal diffusivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Atmospheric Science


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