Turbulence and vertical fluxes in the stable atmospheric boundary layer. Part I: A large-eddy simulation study

Jing Huang, Elie R. Bou-Zeid

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This study seeks to quantitatively and qualitatively understand how stability affects transport in the continuously turbulent stably stratified atmospheric boundary layer, based on a suite of large-eddy simulations. The test cases are based on the one adopted by theGlobal Energy andWaterCycle Experiment (GEWEX)Atmospheric Boundary Layer Study (GABLS) project, but with a largely expanded stability range where the gradient Richardson number (Rig) reaches up to around 1. The analysis is mainly focused on understanding the modification of turbulent structures and dynamics with increasing stability in order to improve the modeling of the stable atmospheric boundary layer in weather and climate models, a topic addressed in Part II of this work. It is found that at quasi equilibrium, an increase in stability results in stronger vertical gradients of the mean temperature, a lowered low-level jet, a decrease in vertical momentum transport, an increase in vertical buoyancy flux, and a shallower boundary layer. Analysis of coherent turbulent structures using two-point autocorrelation reveals that the autocorrelation of the streamwise velocity is horizontally anisotropic while the autocorrelation of the vertical velocity is relatively isotropic in the horizontal plane and its integral length scale decreases as stability increases. The effects of stability on the overall turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) and its budget terms are also investigated, and it is shown that the authors' large-eddy simulation results are in good agreement with previous experimental findings across varied stabilities. Finally, Nieuwstadt's local-scaling theory is reexamined and it is concluded that the height z is not a relevant scaling parameter and should be replaced by a constant length scale away from the surface, indicating that the z-less range starts lower than previously assumed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1513-1527
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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