Subgrid model with scaling laws for atmospheric simulations

Vassili Kitsios, Jorgen S. Frederiksen, Meelis Juma Zidikheri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Subgrid-scale parameterizations with self-similar scaling laws are developed for large-eddy simulations (LESs) of atmospheric flows. The key new contribution is the development of scaling laws that govern how these parameterizations depend on the LES resolution and flow strength. Both stochastic and deterministic representations of the effects of subgrid-scale eddies on the retained scales are considered. The stochastic subgrid model consists of a backscatter noise term and a drain eddy viscosity, while in the deterministic subgrid model the net effect of these two terms is represented by a net eddy viscosity. In both cases the subgrid transfers are calculated self-consistently from the statistics of higher-resolution-reference direct numerical simulations (DNSs). The dependence of the subgrid parameterizations on the resolution of the LESs is determined for DNSs having resolutions up to triangular 504 wavenumber truncations. The subgrid parameterizations are developed for typical large-scale atmospheric flows and for different strengths and spectra of kinetic energy within a quasigeostrophic spectral model. LESs using the stochastic and deterministic subgrid parameterizations are shown to replicate the kinetic energy spectra of the reference DNS at the scales of the LESs. It is found that the maximum strengths of the drain, net, and backscatter viscosities satisfy scaling laws dependent on the LES truncation wavenumber and that the dependence of these eddy viscosities on total wavenumber can also be written as essentially universal functions that depend on flow strength and resolution. The scaling laws make the subgrid-scale parameterizations more generally applicable in LESs and remove the need to generate them from reference DNSs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1427-1445
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Atmospheric circulation
  • Baroclinic flows
  • Diffusion
  • Stochastic models
  • Subgrid-scale processes
  • Turbulence

Cite this