SPATIOTEMPORAL EVALUATION OF NOCTURNAL COLD AIR DRAINAGE OVER A SIMPLE SLOPE USING THERMAL INFRARED IMAGERY
Keywords: Infrared camera, Cold air drainage velocity, Cooling rates, Cold air pooling, Microclimate, Radiation frost
Abstract. Measurements of climatic processes such as cold air drainage flows are problematic over mountainous areas. Observation of cold air drainage is not available in the existing observation network and it requires a special methodology. The main objective of this study was to characterize the cold air drainage over regions with a slope. A high resolution infrared camera, a meteorological station and Digital Elevation Model (DEM) were used. The specific objective was to derive nocturnal cold air drainage velocity over the slope. To address these objectives, a number of infrared measurement campaigns were conducted during calm and clear sky conditions over an agricultural zone (blackcurrant farm) in Canada. Using thermal infrared images, the nocturnal surface temperature gradient were computed in hourly basis. The largest gradient magnitudes were found between 17h -20h. The cooling rates at basin area were two times higher in comparison to the magnitudes observed within slope area. The image analysis illustrated this considerable temperature gradient of the basin may be partly due to transport of cold air drainage into the basin from the slope. The results show that thermal imagery can be used to characterize and understand the microclimate related to the occurrence of radiation frost in the agricultural field. This study provided the opportunity to track the cold air drainage flow and pooling of cold air in low lying areas. The infrared analysis demonstrated that nocturnal drainage flow displayed continuous variation in terms of space and time in response to microscale slope heterogeneities. In addition, the analysis highlighted the periodic aspect for cold air drainage flow.