The eddy covariance (also known as eddy correlation and eddy flux) is a key atmospheric measurement technique to measure and calculate vertical turbulent fluxes within atmospheric boundary layers. The method analyses high-frequency wind and scalar atmospheric data series, gas, energy, and momentum, which yields values of fluxes of these properties. It is a statistical method used in meteorology and other applications (micrometeorology, oceanography, hydrology, agricultural sciences, industrial and regulatory applications, etc.) to determine exchange rates of trace gases over natural ecosystems and agricultural fields, and to quantify gas emissions rates from other land and water areas. It is frequently used to estimate momentum, heat, water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane fluxes.
The technique is also used extensively for verification and tuning of global climate models, mesoscale and weather models, complex biogeochemical and ecological models, and remote sensing estimates from satellites and aircraft. The technique is mathematically complex, and requires significant care in setting up and processing data. To date,[when?] there is no uniform terminology or a single methodology for the eddy covariance technique, but much effort is being made by flux measurement networks (e.g., FluxNet, Ameriflux, ICOS, CarboEurope, Fluxnet Canada, OzFlux, NEON, and iLEAPS) to unify the various approaches.
The technique has additionally proven applicable under water to the benthic zone for measuring oxygen fluxes between the sea floor and overlying water. In these environments, the technique is generally known as the eddy correlation technique, or just eddy correlation. Oxygen fluxes are extracted from raw measurements largely following the same principles as used in the atmosphere, and they are typically used as a proxy for carbon exchange, which is important for local and global carbon budgets. For most benthic ecosystems, eddy correlation is the most accurate technique for measuring in-situ fluxes. The technique's development and its applications under water remains a fruitful area of research.
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