On Monin-Obukhov similarity in the stable atmospheric boundary layer

Markus Pahlow, Marc B. Parlange, Fernando Porté-Agel

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Atmospheric measurements from several field experiments have been combined to develop a better understanding of the turbulence structure of the stable atmospheric boundary layer. Fast response wind velocity and temperature data have been recorded using 3-dimensional sonic anemometers, placed at several heights (≈ 1 m to 4.3 m) above the ground. The measurements were used to calculate the standard deviations of the three components of the wind velocity, temperature, turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation and temperature variance dissipation. These data were normalized and plotted according to Monin-Obukhov similarity theory. The non-dimensional turbulence statistics have been computed, in part, to investigate the general applicability of the concept of z-less stratification for stable conditions. From the analysis of a data set covering almost five orders of magnitude in the stability parameter ζ = z/L (from near-neutral to very stable atmospheric stability), it was found that this concept does not hold in general. It was only for the non-dimensional standard deviation of temperature and the average dissipation rate of turbulent kinetic energy that z-less behaviour has been found. The other variables studied here (non-dimensional standard deviations of u, v, and w velocity components and dissipation of temperature variance) did not follow the concept of z-less stratification for the very stable atmospheric boundary layer. An imbalance between production and dissipation of TKE was found for the near-neutral limit approached from the stable regime, which matches with previous results for near-neutral stability approached from the unstable regime.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-248
Number of pages24
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric turbulence
  • Monin-Obukhov similarity
  • Stable atmospheric boundary layer

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