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Atmospheric Boundary Layer FlowsTheir Structure and Measurement$
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J. C. Kaimal and J. J. Finnigan

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780195062397

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780195062397.001.0001

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Spectra and Cospectra Over Flat Uniform Terrain

Spectra and Cospectra Over Flat Uniform Terrain

2 Spectra and Cospectra Over Flat Uniform Terrain
Atmospheric Boundary Layer Flows

J. C. Kaimal

J. J. Finnigan

Oxford University Press

Turbulent flows like those in the atmospheric boundary layer can be thought of as a superposition of eddies—coherent patterns of velocity, vorticity, and pressure— spread over a wide range of sizes. These eddies interact continuously with the mean flow, from which they derive their energy, and also with each other. The large “energy-containing” eddies, which contain most of the kinetic energy and are responsible for most of the transport in the turbulence, arise through instabilities in the background flow. The random forcing that provokes these instabilities is provided by the existing turbulence. This is the process represented in the production terms of the turbulent kinetic energy equation (1.59) in Chapter 1. The energy-containing eddies themselves are also subject to instabilities, which in their case are provoked by other eddies. This imposes upon them a finite lifetime before they too break up into yet smaller eddies. This process is repeated at all scales until the eddies become sufficiently small that viscosity can affect them directly and convert their kinetic energy to internal energy (heat). The action of viscosity is captured in the dissipation term of the turbulent kinetic energy equation. The second-moment budget equations presented in Chapter 1, of which (1.59) is one example, describe the summed behavior of all the eddies in the turbulent flow. To understand the conversion of mean kinetic energy into turbulent kinetic energy in the large eddies, the handing down of this energy to eddies of smaller and smaller scale in an “eddy cascade” process, and its ultimate conversion to heat by viscosity, we must isolate the different scales of turbulent motion and separately observe their behavior. Taking Fourier spectra and cospectra of the turbulence offers a convenient way of doing this. The spectral representation associates with each scale of motion the amount of kinetic energy, variance, or eddy flux it contributes to the whole and provides a new and invaluable perspective on boundary layer structure. The spectrum of boundary layer fluctuations covers a range of more than five decades: millimeters to kilometers in spatial scales and fractions of a second to hours in temporal scales.

Keywords:   Autocorrelation function, Convection velocity, Dissipation range, Excluded region, Free convection, Gravity waves, Inertial subrange, Pink noise, Stable outer layer

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