Local isotropy and anisotropy in the sheared and heated atmospheric surface layer

Gabriel Katul, Marc B. Parlange, John D Albertson, Chia R. Chu

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Longitudinal velocity and temperature measurements above a uniform dry lakebed were used to investigate sources of eddy-motion anisotropy within the inertial subrange. Rather than simply test the adequacy of locally isotropic relations, we investigated directly the sources of anisotropy. These sources, in a daytime desert-like climate, include: (1) direct interaction between the large-scale and small-scale eddy motion, and (2) thermal effects on the small-scale eddy motion. In order to explore these two anisotropy sources, we developed statistical measures that are sensitive to such interactions. It was found that the large-scale/small-scale interaction was significant in the inertial subrange up to 3 decades below the production scale, thus reducing the validity of the local isotropy assumption. The anisotropy generated by thermal effects was also significant and comparable in magnitude to the former anisotropy source. However, this thermal anisotropy was opposite in sign and tended to counteract the anisotropy generated by the large-scale/smallscale interaction. The thermal anisotropy was attributed to organized ramp-like patterns in the temperature measurements. The impact of this anisotropy cancellation on the dynamics of inertial subrange eddy motion was also considered. For that purpose, the Kolmogorov-Obukhov structure function equation, as derived from the Navier-Stokes equations for locally isotropic turbulence, was employed. The Kolmogorov-Obukhov structure function equation in conjunction with Obukhov's constant skewness closure hypothesis reproduced the measured second- and third-order structure functions. Obukhov's constant skewness closure scheme, which is also based on the local isotropy assumption, was verified and was found to be in good agreement with the measurements. The accepted 0.4 constant skewness value derived from grid turbulence experiments overestimated our measurements. A suggested 0.26 constant skewness value, which we derived from Kolmogorov's constant, was found to be adequate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-148
Number of pages26
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes

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