Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 140, Issue 1, pp 87-103

First online:

A Lagrangian Model to Predict the Modification of Near-Surface Scalar Mixing Ratios and Air–Water Exchange Fluxes in Offshore Flow

  • Mark D. RoweAffiliated withDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological UniversityLarge Lakes and Rivers Forecasting Research Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • , Judith A. PerlingerAffiliated withDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Michigan Technological University Email author 
  • , Christopher W. FairallAffiliated withEarth System Research Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

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A model was developed to predict the modification with fetch in offshore flow of mixing ratio, air–water exchange flux, and near-surface vertical gradients in mixing ratio of a scalar due to air–water exchange. The model was developed for planning and interpretation of air–water exchange flux measurements in the coastal zone. The Lagrangian model applies a mass balance over the internal boundary layer (IBL) using the integral depth scale approach, previously applied to development of the nocturnal boundary layer overland. Surface fluxes and vertical profiles in the surface layer were calculated using the NOAA COARE bulk algorithm and gas transfer model (e.g., Blomquist et al. 2006, Geophys Res Lett 33:1–4). IBL height was assumed proportional to the square root of fetch, and estimates of the IBL growth rate coefficient, α, were obtained by three methods: (1) calibration of the model to a large dataset of air temperature and humidity modification over Lake Ontario in 1973, (2) atmospheric soundings from the 2004 New England Air Quality Study and (3) solution of a simplified diffusion equation and an estimate of eddy diffusivity from Monin–Obukhov similarity theory (MOST). Reasonable agreement was obtained between the calibrated and MOST values of α for stable, neutral, and unstable conditions, and estimates of α agreed with previously published parametrizations that were valid for the stable IBL only. The parametrization of α provides estimates of IBL height, and the model estimates modification of scalar mixing ratio, fluxes, and near-surface gradients, under conditions of coastal offshore flow (0–50 km) over a wide range in stability.


Air–sea gas exchange Bulk Richardson number Internal boundary layer Offshore flow Stability