Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 123, Issue 2, pp 269–294 | Cite as

Negative water vapour skewness and dry tongues in the convective boundary layer: observations and large-eddy simulation budget analysis

  • F. Couvreux
  • F. Guichard
  • V. Masson
  • J.-L. Redelsperger
Original Paper


This study focuses on the intrusion of dry air into the convective boundary layer (CBL) originating from the top of the CBL. Aircraft in-situ measurements from the IHOP_2002 field campaign indicate a prevalence of negative skewness of the water vapour distribution within the growing daytime CBL over land. This negative skewness is interpreted according to large-eddy simulations (LES) as the result of descending dry downdrafts originating from above the mixed layer. LES are used to determine the statistical properties of these intrusions: their size and thermodynamical characteristics. A conditional sampling analysis demonstrates their significance in the retrieval of moisture variances and fluxes. The rapid CBL growth explains why greater negative skewness is observed during the growing phase: the large amounts of dry air that are quickly incorporated into the CBL prevent a full homogenisation by turbulent mixing. The boundary-layer warming in this phase also plays a role in the acquisition of negative buoyancy for these dry tongues, and thus possibly explains their kinematics in the lower CBL. Budget analysis helps to identify the processes responsible for the negative skewness. This budget study underlines the main role of turbulent transport, which distributes the skewness produced at the top or the bottom of the CBL into the interior of the CBL. The dry tongues contribute significantly to this turbulent transport.


Convective boundary layer Dry tongues Large-eddy simulation Skewness Variance Water vapour 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Couvreux
    • 1
  • F. Guichard
    • 1
  • V. Masson
    • 1
  • J.-L. Redelsperger
    • 1
  1. 1.GAME-Météo-France CNRM/GMMEToulouse Cedex 1France

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