Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 145, Issue 1, pp 5-25

First online:

Structure Function Analysis of Two-Scale Scalar Ramps. Part I: Theory and Modelling

  • T. M. ShaplandAffiliated withDepartment of Viticulture & Enology, University of California
  • , A. J. McElroneAffiliated withCrops Pathology and Genetics Research Unit, United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service
  • , R. L. SnyderAffiliated withAtmospheric Science, University of California
  • , K. T. Paw UAffiliated withAtmospheric Science, University of California Email author 

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Structure functions are used to study the dissipation and inertial range scales of turbulent energy, to parametrize remote turbulence measurements, and to characterize ramp features in the turbulent field. Ramp features are associated with turbulent coherent structures, which dominate energy and mass fluxes in the atmospheric surface layer. The analysis of structure functions to identify ramp characteristics is used in surface renewal methods for estimating fluxes. It is unclear how commonly observed different scales of ramp-like shapes (i.e., smaller ramps and spikes embedded in larger ramps) influence structure function analysis. Here, we examine the impact of two ramp-like scales on structure function analysis using artificially generated data. The range of time lags in structure function analysis was extended to include time lags typically associated with isotropic turbulence to those larger than the ramp durations. The Van Atta procedure (Arch Mech 29:161–171, 1977) has been expanded here to resolve the characteristics of two-scale ramp models. This new method accurately, and in some cases, exactly determines the amplitude and duration of both ramp scales. Spectral analysis was applied to the structure functions for a broad range of time lags to provide qualitative support for the expanded Van Atta procedure results. The theory reported here forms the foundation for novel methods of analyzing turbulent coherent structures.


Coherent structures Structure functions Surface renewal Temperature ramps