A Study of Intermittent Turbulence in Stable Arctic Boundary Layers Journal Article uri icon



  • AbstractPolar boundary layers are difficult to model due to the existence of intermittent turbulence within stable layers. Here we present a case study evaluation of coherent structures in a stable boundary layer observed during a series of flights with an uncrewed aircraft system (DataHawk2) on 19 October 2016 at Oliktok Point, Alaska as part of the ERASMUS (Evaluation of Routine Atmospheric Sounding Measurements using Unmanned Systems) field campaign. During a sequence of five flights over a nine-hour period, 57 profiles of atmospheric properties (0–400 m a.g.l) were collected. Turbulence was identified using derived Richardson Number, temperature structure function parameter, and turbulence kinetic energy dissipation. Throughout all flights on this strongly stable day, intermittent turbulence was observed. These turbulent layers showed well-mixed potential temperature profiles embedded within otherwise stable potential temperature profiles; often resulting in a characteristic staircase pattern. Turbulent layers ranged from 1 to 30 m deep, with most individual layers being 1–2 m deep. Vertical propagation velocities of layers in the lower atmosphere were on the order of a few cm s−1, typical of non-convective environments. In different regions of the profile, turbulence was driven by a different balance of buoyancy and shear forces, with turbulence in the near surface environment driven by strong shear forces overcoming strong resistance to buoyancy, while turbulence in elevated layers characterized by weaker shear forces overcoming weaker resistance to buoyancy. We discuss the potential of such datasets for improving subgrid parameterizations of small-scale turbulence embedded within stable boundary layers.

publication date

  • January 1, 2024

has restriction

  • hybrid

Date in CU Experts

  • January 24, 2024 12:34 PM

Full Author List

  • Butterworth BJ; de Boer G; Lawrence D

author count

  • 3

Other Profiles

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0006-8314

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1573-1472

Additional Document Info


  • 190


  • 1


  • 2