Wave and Turbulence Structure in a Shallow Baroclinic Convective Boundary Layer and Overlying Inversion

Ming Yu Zhou National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307

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D. H. Lenschow National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307

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B. B. Stankov National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307

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J. C. Kaimal NOAA/ERL/Wave, Propagation Laboratory, Boulder, CO 80303

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J. E. Gaynor NOAA/ERL/Wave, Propagation Laboratory, Boulder, CO 80303

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Abstract

Data from the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) are used to investigate the wave and turbulence structure of the convective atmospheric mixed layer and the overlying inversion. Three cases are discussed, one in considerable detail, in which the depth of the mixed layer is below the top of the 300 m tower at the BAO and is nearly steady state for several hours. Velocity and temperature variances and spectra, coherences between vertical velocity and temperature, and vertical velocities at different levels on the tower are used to show that although the mixed-layer behavior is for the most part similar to that found in previous studies, there are some significant differences due mainly to the relatively large shear term in the turbulence energy equation compared with buoyancy, both within the mixed layer and in the capping inversion. For example, the wavelength of the spectral maximum for vertical velocity in the upper half of the mixed layer is about three times the boundary-layer height, which is about twice that estimated in a previous experiment. The wavelength is up to 5.5 times the mixed-layer height above the top of the mixed layer. Within the mixed layer, terms in the turbulence kinetic energy equation are similar to previous studies. Above the mixed layer, shear production becomes large, and is approximately balanced by the sum of the buoyancy, dissipation and transport terms. The temperature variance and flux budgets also have large terms and significant residuals in the overlying inversion.

Abstract

Data from the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) are used to investigate the wave and turbulence structure of the convective atmospheric mixed layer and the overlying inversion. Three cases are discussed, one in considerable detail, in which the depth of the mixed layer is below the top of the 300 m tower at the BAO and is nearly steady state for several hours. Velocity and temperature variances and spectra, coherences between vertical velocity and temperature, and vertical velocities at different levels on the tower are used to show that although the mixed-layer behavior is for the most part similar to that found in previous studies, there are some significant differences due mainly to the relatively large shear term in the turbulence energy equation compared with buoyancy, both within the mixed layer and in the capping inversion. For example, the wavelength of the spectral maximum for vertical velocity in the upper half of the mixed layer is about three times the boundary-layer height, which is about twice that estimated in a previous experiment. The wavelength is up to 5.5 times the mixed-layer height above the top of the mixed layer. Within the mixed layer, terms in the turbulence kinetic energy equation are similar to previous studies. Above the mixed layer, shear production becomes large, and is approximately balanced by the sum of the buoyancy, dissipation and transport terms. The temperature variance and flux budgets also have large terms and significant residuals in the overlying inversion.

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