Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 129-148

First online:

A simple model of the atmospheric boundary layer; sensitivity to surface evaporation

  • I B TroenAffiliated withRisø National Laboratory
  • , L. MahrtAffiliated withDepartment of Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University

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A simple formulation of the boundary layer is developed for use in large-scale models and other situations where simplicity is required. The formulation is suited for use in models where some resolution is possible within the boundary layer, but where the resolution is insufficient for resolving the detailed boundary-layer structure and overlying capping inversion. Surface fluxes are represented in terms of similarity theory while turbulent diffusivities above the surface layer are formulated in terms of bulk similarity considerations and matching conditions at the top of the surface layer. The boundary-layer depth is expressed in terms of a bulk Richardson number which is modified to include the influence of thermals. Attention is devoted to the interrelationship between predicted boundary-layer growth, the turbulent diffusivity profile, ‘countergradient’ heat flux and truncation errors.

The model predicts growth of the convectively mixed layer reasonably well and is well-behaved in cases of weak surface heat flux and transitions between stable and unstable cases. The evolution of the modelled boundary layer is studied for different ratios of surface evaporation to potential evaporation. Typical variations of surface evaporation result in a much greater variation in boundary-layer depth than that caused by the choice of the boundary-layer depth formulation.