Acoustic Detection of Momentum Transfer during the Abrupt Transition from a Laminar to a Turbulent Atmospheric Boundary Layer

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  • 1 Savannah River Laboratory, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Aiken, S. C. 29801
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Abstract

Acoustic sounder measurements of a vertical profile of the abrupt transition from a laminar to a turbulent atmospheric boundary layer were compared with meteorological measurements made at 10 and 137 m on an instrumented tower. Sounder data show that conditions necessary for the onset of the momentum burst phenomenon exist sometime during a clear afternoon when heat flux changes sign and the planetary surface cools. Under these conditions, the lowest part of the atmospheric boundary layer becomes stable. Prior to this situation, the entire boundary layer is in turbulent motion from surface heating. The boundary layer is then an effective barrier for all fluxes, and as the maximum flux Richardson number is reached at some height close to but above the surface, turbulence is dampened and a laminar layer forms. The profile of this layer is recorded by the sounder. Surface temperature drops, a strong wind shear develops, and the Richardson number decreases below its critical value (Ricr < 0.25). Subsequently, the laminar layer is eroded by turbulence from above, and with a burst of momentum and heat, it eventually reaches the ground.

Abstract

Acoustic sounder measurements of a vertical profile of the abrupt transition from a laminar to a turbulent atmospheric boundary layer were compared with meteorological measurements made at 10 and 137 m on an instrumented tower. Sounder data show that conditions necessary for the onset of the momentum burst phenomenon exist sometime during a clear afternoon when heat flux changes sign and the planetary surface cools. Under these conditions, the lowest part of the atmospheric boundary layer becomes stable. Prior to this situation, the entire boundary layer is in turbulent motion from surface heating. The boundary layer is then an effective barrier for all fluxes, and as the maximum flux Richardson number is reached at some height close to but above the surface, turbulence is dampened and a laminar layer forms. The profile of this layer is recorded by the sounder. Surface temperature drops, a strong wind shear develops, and the Richardson number decreases below its critical value (Ricr < 0.25). Subsequently, the laminar layer is eroded by turbulence from above, and with a burst of momentum and heat, it eventually reaches the ground.

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