Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 86, Issue 2, pp 257–278

On the Determination of the Neutral Drag Coefficient in the Convective Boundary Layer

  • A.A. Grachev
  • C.W. Fairall
  • S.E. Larsen

DOI: 10.1023/A:1000617300732

Cite this article as:
Grachev, A., Fairall, C. & Larsen, S. Boundary-Layer Meteorology (1998) 86: 257. doi:10.1023/A:1000617300732


Based on the idea that free convection can be considered as a particular case of forced convection, where the gusts driven by the large-scale eddies are scaled with the Deardorff convective velocity scale, a new formulation for the neutral drag coefficient, CDn, in the convective boundary layer (CBL) is derived. It is shown that (i) a concept of CDn can still be used under strongly unstable conditions including a pure free-convection regime even when no logarithmic portion in the velocity profile exists; (ii) gustiness corrections must be applied for rational calculations of CDn; and (iii) the stratification Ψ function used in the derivation of CDn should satisfy the theoretical free-convection limit. The new formulation is compared with the traditional relationship for CDn, and data collected over the sea (during the Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere Response Experiment (TOGA COARE) and the San Clemente Ocean Probing Experiment (SCOPE)) and over land (during the BOREX-95 experiment) are used to illustrate the difference between the new and traditional formulations. Compared to the new approach, the traditional formulation strongly overestimates CDn and zo in the CBL for mean wind speed less than about 2 m s-1. The new approach also clarifies several contradictory results from earlier works. Some aspects related to an alternate definition of the neutral drag coefficient and the wind speed and the stress averaging procedure are considered.

Convective boundary layer Drag coefficient Roughness length 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • A.A. Grachev
    • 1
  • C.W. Fairall
    • 2
  • S.E. Larsen
    • 3
  1. 1.A. M. Obukhov Institute of Atmospheric PhysicsRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  2. 2.National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Environmental Research Laboratories, Environmental Technology LaboratoryBoulderU.S.A
  3. 3.Wind Energy and Atmospheric Physics Department, Risø National LaboratoryRoskildeDenmark