The use of relaxed eddy accumulation to measure biosphere-atmosphere exchange of isoprene and other biological trace gases

D. R. Bowling, A. A. Turnipseed, A. C. Delany, D. D. Baldocchi, J. P. Greenberg, R. K. Monson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


The micrometeorological flux measurement technique known as relaxed eddy accumulation (REA) holds promise as a powerful new tool for ecologists. The more popular eddy covariance (eddy correlation) technique requires the use of sensors that can respond at fast rates (10 Hz), and these are unavailable for many ecologically relevant compounds. In contrast, the use of REA allows flux measurement with sensors that have much slower response time, such as gas chromatography and mass spectrometry. In this review, relevant micrometeorological details underlying REA are presented, and critical analytical and system design details are discussed, with the goal of introducing the technique and its potential applications to ecologists. The validity of REA for measuring fluxes of isoprene, a photochemically reactive hydrocarbon emitted by several plant species, was tested with measurements over an oakhickory forest in the Walker Branch Watershed in eastern Tennessee. Concurrent eddy covariance measurements of isoprene flux were made using a newly available chemiluminesence instrument. Excellent agreement was obtained between the two techniques (r2 = 0.974, n = 62), providing the first direct comparison between REA and eddy covariance for measuring the flux rate of a reactive compound. The influence of a bias in vertical wind velocity on the accuracy of REA was examined. This bias has been thought to be a source of significant error in the past. Measurements of normalized bias (w̄/σ(w)) alone would lead us to think that a large potential error exists at this site. However, with our isoprene data and through simulations of REA with fast-response H2O and CO2 data, we conclude that accurate REA flux measurements can be made even in the presence of a bias in w.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998


  • Eddy covariance
  • Flux
  • Isoprene
  • Oak-hickory forest
  • REA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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