Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 5873-5885, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
27 May 2015
Turbulent structure and scaling of the inertial subrange in a stratocumulus-topped boundary layer observed by a Doppler lidar
J. Tonttila1,3, E. J. O'Connor2,4, A. Hellsten2, A. Hirsikko2,5, C. O'Dowd6, H. Järvinen3, and P. Räisänen2 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Atmospheric Research Centre of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, 70211 Kuopio, Finland
2Finnish Meteorological Institute, P.O. Box 503, 00101, Helsinki, Finland
3University of Helsinki, Department of Physics, P.O. Box 48, 00014, Helsinki, Finland
4University of Reading, Reading, UK
5Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, Institut für Energie-und Klimaforschung: Troposphäre (IEK-8), Jülich, Germany
6School of Physics and Centre for Climate & Air Pollution Studies, Ryan Institute, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland
Abstract. The turbulent structure of a stratocumulus-topped marine boundary layer over a 2-day period is observed with a Doppler lidar at Mace Head in Ireland. Using profiles of vertical velocity statistics, the bulk of the mixing is identified as cloud driven. This is supported by the pertinent feature of negative vertical velocity skewness in the sub-cloud layer which extends, on occasion, almost to the surface. Both coupled and decoupled turbulence characteristics are observed. The length and timescales related to the cloud-driven mixing are investigated and shown to provide additional information about the structure and the source of the mixing inside the boundary layer. They are also shown to place constraints on the length of the sampling periods used to derive products, such as the turbulent dissipation rate, from lidar measurements. For this, the maximum wavelengths that belong to the inertial subrange are studied through spectral analysis of the vertical velocity. The maximum wavelength of the inertial subrange in the cloud-driven layer scales relatively well with the corresponding layer depth during pronounced decoupled structure identified from the vertical velocity skewness. However, on many occasions, combining the analysis of the inertial subrange and vertical velocity statistics suggests higher decoupling height than expected from the skewness profiles. Our results show that investigation of the length scales related to the inertial subrange significantly complements the analysis of the vertical velocity statistics and enables a more confident interpretation of complex boundary layer structures using measurements from a Doppler lidar.

Citation: Tonttila, J., O'Connor, E. J., Hellsten, A., Hirsikko, A., O'Dowd, C., Järvinen, H., and Räisänen, P.: Turbulent structure and scaling of the inertial subrange in a stratocumulus-topped boundary layer observed by a Doppler lidar, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 5873-5885,, 2015.
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