Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 145, Issue 2, pp 273–306 | Cite as

Towards Reconciling the Large-Scale Structure of Turbulent Boundary Layers in the Atmosphere and Laboratory

  • Nicholas Hutchins
  • Kapil Chauhan
  • Ivan Marusic
  • Jason Monty
  • Joseph Klewicki


A collaborative experimental effort employing the minimally perturbed atmospheric surface-layer flow over the salt playa of western Utah has enabled us to map coherence in turbulent boundary layers at very high Reynolds numbers, \({Re_{\tau}\sim\mathcal{O}(10^6)}\) . It is found that the large-scale coherence noted in the logarithmic region of laboratory-scale boundary layers are also present in the very high Reynolds number atmospheric surface layer (ASL). In the ASL these features tend to scale on outer variables (approaching the kilometre scale in the streamwise direction for the present study). The mean statistics and two-point correlation map show that the surface layer under neutrally buoyant conditions behaves similarly to the canonical boundary layer. Linear stochastic estimation of the three-dimensional correlation map indicates that the low momentum fluid in the streamwise direction is accompanied by counter-rotating roll modes across the span of the flow. Instantaneous flow fields confirm the inferences made from the linear stochastic estimations. It is further shown that vortical structures aligned in the streamwise direction are present in the surface layer, and bear attributes that resemble the hairpin vortex features found in laboratory flows. Ramp-like high shear zones that contribute significantly to the Reynolds shear-stress are also present in the ASL in a form nearly identical to that found in laboratory flows. Overall, the present findings serve to draw useful connections between the vast number of observations made in the laboratory and in the atmosphere.


Large-scale coherence Neutral surface layer Turbulent boundary layer 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicholas Hutchins
    • 1
  • Kapil Chauhan
    • 1
  • Ivan Marusic
    • 1
  • Jason Monty
    • 1
  • Joseph Klewicki
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  2. 2.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA

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