Abstract

Conventional analysis has shown that strong wind shear enhances the entrainment buoyancy flux in the convective boundary layer. By conditioning the entrainment zone into regions of turbulent (i.e. strongly vortical) and non-turbulent (i.e. weakly vortical) flow, some unexpected aspects of this process are revealed. It is found that turbulent regions contribute the most to the entrainment buoyancy flux, but that as wind shear increases, the magnitude of the buoyancy flux in turbulent regions remains approximately constant, or even decreases, despite substantially stronger buoyancy fluctuations. The reason is that the correlation between buoyancy and vertical velocity fluctuations decreases with increasing wind shear, to the extent that it compensates the stronger buoyancy fluctuations. In free convection, this correlation is high because the vertical velocity is mainly determined by the buoyancy force acting in the same direction. Under strong shear conditions, buoyancy is no longer the only external source of vertical velocity fluctuations and their correlation consequently decreases. Hence, shear enhancement of the buoyancy flux in the entrainment zone is primarily due to an increase of the turbulent area fraction, rather than a change of flux inside the turbulent regions.

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