Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 164, Issue 3, pp 383–399 | Cite as

Analytical Reduced Models for the Non-stationary Diabatic Atmospheric Boundary Layer

Research Article


Geophysical boundary-layer flows feature complex dynamics that often evolve with time; however, most current knowledge centres on the steady-state problem. In these atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers, the pressure gradient, buoyancy, Coriolis, and frictional forces interact to determine the statistical moments of the flow. The resulting equations for the non-stationary mean variables, even when succinctly closed, remain challenging to handle mathematically. Here, we derive a simpler physical model that reduces these governing unsteady Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes partial differential equations into a single first-order ordinary differential equation with non-constant coefficients. The reduced model is straightforward to solve under arbitrary forcing, even when the statistical moments are non-stationary and the viscosity varies in time and space. The model is successfully validated against large-eddy simulation for, (1) time-variable pressure gradients, and (2) linearly time-variable buoyancy. The new model is shown to have a superior performance compared to the classic Blackadar solutions (and later improvements on these solutions), and it covers a much wider range of conditions.


Large-eddy simulation Low-level jet Non-stationary turbulence Unsteady atmospheric boundary layer Variable static stability 



The authors acknowledge support from the Physical and Dynamic Meteorology Program of the National Science Foundation under AGS-1026636, and from the Cooperative Institute for Climate Science of Princeton University and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration under Grant Number 344-6127. The simulations were performed on the computing clusters of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research under Project Number P36861020.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth System ScienceStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUS

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