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Second-Moment Budgets and Mixing Intensity in the Stably Stratified Atmospheric Boundary Layer over Thermally Heterogeneous Surfaces

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  • 1 German Weather Service, Offenbach am Main, Germany
  • | 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research,* Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The effect of horizontal temperature heterogeneity of the underlying surface on the turbulence structure and mixing intensity in the stably stratified boundary layer (SBL) is analyzed using large-eddy simulation (LES). Idealized LESs of flows driven by fixed winds and homogeneous and heterogeneous surface temperatures are compared. The LES data are used to compute statistical moments, to estimate budgets of the turbulence kinetic energy (TKE), of the temperature variance and of the temperature flux, and to assess the relative importance of various terms in maintaining the budgets. Unlike most previous studies, the LES-based second-moment budgets are estimated with due regard for the subgrid-scale contributions.

The SBL over a heterogeneous surface is more turbulent with larger variances (and TKE), is better vertically mixed, and is deeper compared to its homogeneous counterpart. The most striking difference between the cases is exhibited in the temperature variance and its budget. Because of surface heterogeneity, the turbulent transport term (divergence of the third-order moment) not only redistributes the temperature variance vertically but is a net gain. The increase in the temperature variance near the heterogeneous surface explains the reduced magnitude of the downward buoyancy flux and the ensuing increase in TKE that leads to more vigorous mixing. Analysis of the temperature flux budget shows that the transport term contributes to net production/destruction. Importantly, the role of the third-order transport cannot be elucidated if the budgets are computed based solely on resolved-scale fields. Implications for modeling (parameterizing) the SBL over thermally heterogeneous surfaces are discussed.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Dmitrii V. Mironov, Deutscher Wetterdienst, FE14, Frankfurter Str. 135, D-63067 Offenbach am Main, Germany. E-mail: dmitrii.mironov@dwd.de

Abstract

The effect of horizontal temperature heterogeneity of the underlying surface on the turbulence structure and mixing intensity in the stably stratified boundary layer (SBL) is analyzed using large-eddy simulation (LES). Idealized LESs of flows driven by fixed winds and homogeneous and heterogeneous surface temperatures are compared. The LES data are used to compute statistical moments, to estimate budgets of the turbulence kinetic energy (TKE), of the temperature variance and of the temperature flux, and to assess the relative importance of various terms in maintaining the budgets. Unlike most previous studies, the LES-based second-moment budgets are estimated with due regard for the subgrid-scale contributions.

The SBL over a heterogeneous surface is more turbulent with larger variances (and TKE), is better vertically mixed, and is deeper compared to its homogeneous counterpart. The most striking difference between the cases is exhibited in the temperature variance and its budget. Because of surface heterogeneity, the turbulent transport term (divergence of the third-order moment) not only redistributes the temperature variance vertically but is a net gain. The increase in the temperature variance near the heterogeneous surface explains the reduced magnitude of the downward buoyancy flux and the ensuing increase in TKE that leads to more vigorous mixing. Analysis of the temperature flux budget shows that the transport term contributes to net production/destruction. Importantly, the role of the third-order transport cannot be elucidated if the budgets are computed based solely on resolved-scale fields. Implications for modeling (parameterizing) the SBL over thermally heterogeneous surfaces are discussed.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Dmitrii V. Mironov, Deutscher Wetterdienst, FE14, Frankfurter Str. 135, D-63067 Offenbach am Main, Germany. E-mail: dmitrii.mironov@dwd.de
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