Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 243–267 | Cite as

An error analysis of profile flux, stability, and roughness length measurements made in the marine atmospheric surface layer

  • Theodore V. Blanc


An analytical error analysis of profile-derived fluxes of heat, moisture, and momentum, along with stability and roughness length, is performed using the accuracies of the constituent temperature, humidity, and wind speed measurements. Five experiments, representing more than two thirds of the existing marine profile data presently contained in the literature, are compared. Much of the profile data examined was used to develop the transfer coefficients presently employed by a large number of competing bulk aerodynamic flux schemes. Depending upon the experiment, typical profile-method measurement errors were found to range from 15 to 35% for a sensible heat flux of ± 10 W m-2, from 15 to 105% for a latent heat flux of ± 100 W m-2, from 10 to 40% for a stress of 0.05 N m-2, from 15 to 60% for a Monin-Obukhov stability of ± 0.05, and from 25 to 100% for a roughness length of 2 × 10-4 m. Smaller magnitude flux values were found to contain typical errors as large as 100% for sensible heat flux, 300% for latent heat flux, and 60% for stress.


Heat Flux Wind Speed Transfer Coefficient Error Analysis Latent Heat Flux 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, R. J. and Smith, S. D.: 1981, ‘Evaporation Coefficient for the Sea Surface from Eddy Flux Measurements’, J. Geophys. Res. 86 (C1), 449–456.Google Scholar
  2. Badgley, F. I., Paulson, C. A., and Miyake, M.: 1972, Profiles of Wind, Temperature, and Humidity over the Arabian Sea, International Indian Ocean Expedition Meteorological Monograph No. 6, The University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu. [ISBN:0–8248–0101–6.]Google Scholar
  3. Blanc, T. V.: 1981, ‘Report and Analysis of the May 1979 Marine Surface Layer Micrometeorological Experiment at San Nicolas Island, California’, NRL Report 8363, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, 149 pp. [NTIS:ADA110488.]Google Scholar
  4. Blanc, T. V.: 1982a, ‘Is the Bulk Aerodynamic Drag Coefficient Different Over Coastal Waters than Over the Open Ocean? Some Interesting Observations’, Preprints First International Conference on Meteorology and Air/Sea Interaction of the Coastal Zone, May 1982, The Hague, Netherlands, American Meteorological Society, Boston, Mass., pp. 31–35.Google Scholar
  5. Blanc, T. V.: 1982b, ‘Profile-Bulk Method Formulas for Calculating Flux and Stability in the Marine Atmospheric Surface Layer and a Survey of Field Experiments’, NRL Report 8647, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, 17 pp.Google Scholar
  6. Blanc, T. V.: 1982c, ‘The Data Base for the May 1979 Marine Surface Layer Micrometeorological Experiment at San Nicolas Island’, NRL Memorandum Report 4713, Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC 20375, 627 pp.Google Scholar
  7. Blanc, T. V.: 1983a, ‘A Practical Approach to Flux Measurements of Long Duration in the Marine Atmospheric Surface Layer’, accepted for publication in J. Climate and Appl. Meteorol. 22, No. 6.Google Scholar
  8. Blanc, T. V.: 1983b, ‘Typical Influences of Moisture on Profile Measurements in the Marine Atmospheric Surface Layer’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 25, 411–415.Google Scholar
  9. Bogorodskiy, M. M.: 1964, ‘Investigation of Tangential Friction, Vertical Turbulent Heat Exchange and Evaporation under Open Sea Conditions’, Okeanologiya 4, 19–26 (in Russian).Google Scholar
  10. Bruce, J. P., Anderson, D. V., and Rodgers, G. K.: 1961, ‘Temperature, Humidity and Wind Profiles over the Great Lakes’, Great Lakes Research Division, Institute of Science and Technology, The University of Michigan, Publication No. 7, pp. 65–70.Google Scholar
  11. Businger, J. A., Wyngaard, J. C., Izumi, Y., and Bradley, E. F.: 1971, ‘Flux-Profile Relationships in the Atmospheric Surface Layer’, J. Atmos. Sci. 28, 181–189.Google Scholar
  12. Businger, J. A.: 1973, in D. H. Hangen (ed.), ‘Turbulent Transfers in the Atmospheric Surface Layer’, Workshop on Micrometeorology, American Meteorological Society, Boston, Mass., 02108.Google Scholar
  13. Deacon, E. L.: 1962, ‘Aerodynamic Roughness of the Sea’, J. Geophys. Res. 67, 3167–3172.Google Scholar
  14. Deacon, E. L., Sheppard, P. A., and Webb, E. K.: 1956, ‘Wind Profiles over the Sea and the Drag at the Sea Surface’, Aust. J. Phys. 9, 511–541.Google Scholar
  15. Donelan, M. A., Birch, K. N., and Beesley, D. C.: 1974, ‘Generalized Profiles of Wind Speed, Temperature, and Humidity’, Proceedings of the 17th Conference on Great Lakes Research, International Association for Great Lakes Research, pp. 369–388.Google Scholar
  16. Donelan, M. A., Birch, K. N., and Beesley, D. C.: 1975, Final Report on CCIW Boundary Layer Profile Measurements During IFYGL, Canada Center for Inland Waters, Burlington, Ontario, Canada, L7R 4A6, 159 pp.Google Scholar
  17. Donelan, M. A.: 1982, ‘The Dependence of the Aerodynamic Drag Coefficient on Wave Parameters’, Preprints First International Conference on Meteorology and Air/Sea Interation of the Coastal Zone, May 1972, The Hague, Netherlands, American Meteorological Society, Boston, MA 02108, pp. 381–387.Google Scholar
  18. Dunckel, M., Hasse, L., Krügermeyer, L., Schriever, D., and Wucknitz, J.: 1974, ‘Turbulent Fluxes of Momentum, Heat and Water Vapor in the Atmospheric Surface Layer at Sea during ATEX’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 6, 81–106.Google Scholar
  19. Dyer, A. J.: 1974, ‘A Review of Flux-Profile Relationships’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 7, 363–372.Google Scholar
  20. Dyer, A. J. and Bradley, E. F.: 1982, ‘An Alternative Analysis of Flux-Gradient Relationships at the 1976 ITCE’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 22, 3–19.Google Scholar
  21. Dyer, A. J. and Hicks, B. B.: 1970, ‘Flux-Gradient Relationships in the Constant Flux Layer’, Quart. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 96, 715–721.Google Scholar
  22. Fleagle, R. G., Deardorff, J. W., and Badgley, F. I.: 1958, ‘Vertical Distribution of Wind Speed, Temperature and Humidity above a Water Surface’, J. Marine Res 17, 141–155.Google Scholar
  23. Francey, R. J. and Garratt, J. R.: 1981, ‘Interpretation of Flux-Profile Observations at ITCE (1976)’, J. Appl. Meteorol. 20, 603–618.Google Scholar
  24. Fritschen, L. J. and Gay, L. W.: 1979, Environmental Instrumentation, Springer-Verlag, New York, pp. 2–9.Google Scholar
  25. Garratt, J. R.: 1972, ‘Studies of Turbulence in the Surface Layer over Water (Lough Neagh). Part II. Production and Dissipation of Velocity and Temperature Fluctuations’, Quart. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 98, 642–657.Google Scholar
  26. Hasse, L., Grünewald, M., and Hasselmann, D. E.: 1978a, in A. Favre and K. Hasselmann (eds.), ‘Field Observations of Air Flow above the Waves’, Turbulent Fluxes Through the Sea Surface, Wave Dynamics, and Prediction, Plenum Press, New York, pp. 483–494.Google Scholar
  27. Hasse, L., Grünewald, M., Wucknitz, J., Dunckel, M., and Schriever, D.: 1978b, ‘Profile Derived Turbulent Fluxes in the Surface Layer under Disturbed and Undisturbed Conditions during GATE’, ‘Meteor’ Forschungsergeb. (Berlin), Reihe B, No. 13, 24–40.Google Scholar
  28. Hasse, L., Wucknitz, J., Kruspe, G., Ivanov, V. N., Shuskov, A. A., Nekrasov, I. V., Volkov, J. A., Koprov, B. M., Elagina, L. G., Müller-Glewe, J., and Hinzpeter, H.: 1975, ‘Preliminary Report on Determination of Fluxes by Direct and Profile Method during Intercomparison IIa’, Global Atmospheric Research Program, GATE Report No. 14, Vol. II, pp. 267–277.Google Scholar
  29. Hoeber, H.: 1969, ‘Wind, Temperature, and Humidity Profiles in the Atmospheric Surface Layer over the Equatorial Atlantic’, ‘Meteor’ Forschungsergeb. (Berlin), Reihe B, No. 3, 1-25 (Naval Intelligence Support Center translation No. 6378, Washington, D.C.).Google Scholar
  30. Hsu, S.-A.: 1973: ‘Dynamics of the Sea Breeze in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer: A Case Study of the Free Convection Regime’, Mon. Weather Rev. 101, 187–194.Google Scholar
  31. Hsu, S.-A.: 1974, ‘A Dynamic Roughness Equation and Its Application to Wind Stress Determination at the Air-Sea Interface’, J. Phys. Oceanogr. 4, 116–120.Google Scholar
  32. Hupfer, P., Foken, T., and Bachstein, U.: 1976, ‘Fine Structure of the Internal Boundary Layer in the Near-Shore Zone of the Sea’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 10, 503–505.Google Scholar
  33. Kitaigorodskii, S. A.: 1973, The Physics of Air-Sea Interaction, Israel Program for Scientific Translations, Jerusalem, (English translation).Google Scholar
  34. Krügermeyer, L.: 1976, ‘Vertical Transports of Momentum, Sensible and Latent Heat from Profiles at theTropical Atlantic during ATEX’, ‘Meteor’ Forschungsergeb. (Berlin), Reihe B, No. 11, 51–77.Google Scholar
  35. Krügermeyer, L., Grünewald, M., and Dunckel: 1978, ‘The Influence of Sea Waves on the Wind Profile’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 14, 403–414.Google Scholar
  36. Liu, W. T., Katsaros, K. B., and Businger, J. A.: 1979, ‘Bulk Parameterization of Air-Sea Exchanges of Heat and Water Vapor Including the Molecular Constrainst at the Interface’, J. Atmos. Sci. 36, 1722–1735.Google Scholar
  37. Lo, A. K.and McBean, G. A.: 1978, ‘On the Relative Errors in Methods of Flux Calculations’, J. Appl. Meteorol. 17, 1704–1711.Google Scholar
  38. Meyer, S. L.: 1975, Data Analysis for Scientists and Engineers, John Wiley and Sons, New York, p. 22.Google Scholar
  39. Mitsuta, Y. and Tsukamoto, O.: 1978, ‘Drag Coefficients in Light Winds’, Bull. Disaster Prev. Res. Inst. Kyoto Univ. (Japan) 28, part 2, No. 255, 25–32.Google Scholar
  40. Miyake, M., Donelan, M., McBean, G., Paulson, C., Badgley, F., and Leavitt, E.: 1970, ‘Comparison of Turbulent Fluxes over Water Determined by Profile and Eddy Correlation Techniques’, Quart. J. R, Meteorol. Soc. 96, 132–137.Google Scholar
  41. Molle-Christensen, E.: 1979, ‘Upwind Distortion Due to Probe Support in Boundary-Layer Observation’, J. Appl. Meteor. 18, 367–370.Google Scholar
  42. Paulson, C. A., Leavitt, E., and Fleagle, R. G.: 1972, ‘Air-Sea Transfer of Momentum, Heat and Water Determined from Profile Measurements During BOMEX’, J. Phys. Oceanogr. 2, 487–497.Google Scholar
  43. Peterson, E. W.: 1975, ‘The Risø Profiles: A Study of Wind and Temperature Data from the 123 m Tower at Risø, Denmark’, Quart. J. R. Meteorol. Soc. 101, 107–117.Google Scholar
  44. Smith, L. P.: 1970, ‘The Difficult Art of Measurement’, editorial, Agricultural Meteorol. 7, 281–283.Google Scholar
  45. Smith, S. D., Katsaros, K. B., and Oost, W. A.: 1983, ‘HEXOS-Humidity Exchange Over the Sea, Scientific Plan’, Canadian Technical Report of Hydrography and Ocean Sciences No. 21, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada B2Y 4A2, 47 pp.Google Scholar
  46. Takahashi, T.: 1958, ‘Micrometeorological Observations and Studies over the Sea’, Mem. Fac. Fish. Kagoshima Univ. (Japan) 6, 1–46.Google Scholar
  47. Thomson, D. W.: 1979, ‘Risø 78: Mean Profile and Turbulence Measurements at a Shoreline Escarpment’, Risø Report R-410, Risø National Laboratory, DK-4000, Roskilde, Denmark. [ISBN:87–550–0633–7.]Google Scholar
  48. Vigts, H. F. and Businger, J. A.: 1977, ‘Air Modification Due to a Step Change in Surface Temperature’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 11, 295–305.Google Scholar
  49. Vugts, H. F. and Cannemeijer, F.: 1981, ‘Measurements of Drag Coefficients and Roughness Length at a Sea-Beach Interface’, J. Appl. Meteorol. 20, 335–340.Google Scholar
  50. Yaglom, A. M.: 1974, ‘Data on Turbulence Characteristics in the Atmospheric Surface Layer’, Izv. Acad. Sci. USSR, Atmos. Oceanic Phys. 10, 341–352 (English translation).Google Scholar
  51. Yaglom, A. M.: 1977, ‘Comments on Wind and Temperature Flux-Profile Relationships’, Boundary-Layer Meteorol. 11, 89–102.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore V. Blanc
    • 1
  1. 1.Atmospheric Physics BranchNaval Research LaboratoryWashington D.C.USA

Personalised recommendations