Wind and Temperature Oscillations Generated by Wave–Turbulence Interactions in the Stably Stratified Boundary Layer

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  • The authors investigate atmospheric internal gravity waves (IGWs): their generation and induction of global intermittent turbulence in the nocturnal stable atmospheric boundary layer based on the new concept of turbulence generation discussed in a prior paper by Sun et al. The IGWs are generated by air lifted by convergence forced by the colliding background flow and cold currents near the ground. The buoyancy-forced IGWs enhance wind speed at the wind speed wave crests such that the bulk shear instability generates large coherent eddies, which augment local turbulent mixing and vertically redistribute momentum and heat. The periodically enhanced turbulent mixing, in turn, modifies the air temperature and flow oscillations of the original IGWs. These turbulence-forced oscillations (TFOs) resemble waves and coherently transport momentum and sensible heat. The observed momentum and sensible heat fluxes at the IGW frequency, which are due to either the buoyancy-forced IGWs themselves or the TFOs, are larger than turbulent fluxes near the surface. The IGWs enhance not only the bulk shear at the wave crests, but also local shear over the wind speed troughs of the surface IGWs. Temporal and spatial variations of turbulent mixing as a result of this wave-induced turbulent mixing change the mean airflow and the shape of the IGWs.
  • Keywords: Waves, Atmospheric, Wind stress, Drainage flow, Gravity waves, Boundary layer, Turbulence
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  • Sun, J., Mahrt, L., Nappo, C., & Lenschow, D. H. (2015). Wind and Temperature Oscillations Generated by Wave-Turbulence Interactions in the Stably Stratified Boundary Layer. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 72(4), 1484-1503. doi:10.1175/JAS-D-14-0129.1
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  • 72
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  • 4
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  • The authors would like to acknowledge the field support from the Earth Observing Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Larry Mahrt was supported by the National Science Foundation through Grant AGS-1115011.
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