Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 27–44

Structure Function Analysis of Two-Scale Scalar Ramps. Part II: Ramp Characteristics and Surface Renewal Flux Estimation


  • T. M. Shapland
    • Department of Viticulture & EnologyUniversity of California
  • A. J. McElrone
    • Crops Pathology and Genetics Research UnitUnited States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service
  • R. L. Snyder
    • Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of California
    • Atmospheric ScienceUniversity of California

DOI: 10.1007/s10546-012-9740-7

Cite this article as:
Shapland, T.M., McElrone, A.J., Snyder, R.L. et al. Boundary-Layer Meteorol (2012) 145: 27. doi:10.1007/s10546-012-9740-7


Ramp features in the turbulent scalar field are associated with turbulent coherent structures, which dominate energy and mass fluxes in the atmospheric surface layer. Although finer scale ramp-like shapes embedded within larger scale ramp-like shapes can readily be perceived in turbulent scalar traces, their presence has largely been overlooked in the literature. We demonstrate the signature of more than one ramp scale in structure functions of the turbulent scalar field measured from above bare ground and two types of short plant canopies, using structure-function time lags ranging in scale from isotropic to larger than the characteristic coherent structures. Spectral analysis of structure functions was used to characterize different scales of turbulent structures. By expanding structure function analysis to include two ramp scales, we characterized the intermittency, duration, and surface renewal flux contribution of the smallest (i.e., Scale One) and the dominant (i.e., Scale Two) coherent structure scales. The frequencies of the coherent structure scales increase with mean wind shear, implying that both Scale One and Scale Two are shear-driven. The embedded Scale One turbulent structure scale is ineffectual in the surface-layer energy and mass transport process. The new method reported here for obtaining surface renewal-based scalar exchange works well over bare ground and short canopies under unstable conditions, effectively eliminating the α calibration for these conditions and forming the foundation for analysis over taller and more complex surfaces.


Coherent structuresStructure functionsSurface renewalTemperature rampsTurbulenceFlux-variance

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012