Some measurements of turbulence over an antarctic ice shelf

Profiles of wind speed, temperature and turbulent fluxes of heat and momentum in the lowest 32 m have been measured at a station on an antarctic ice shelf. During the antarctic winter the surface layer often shows strong static stability, with temperature gradients as large as 1 Km−1 in the lowest few metres. the surface inversion is destroyed during periods of high wind speed but the wind profile shows significant deviation from the expected logarithmic form under such conditions. Measurements of stress at 5 m indicate that the roughness length of the snow surface is about lO−4 m. At 5 m height, the variations of the dimensionless wind shear, ϕm, and potential temperature gradient, ϕT, agree with previously determined forms of the Monin‐Obukhov similarity functions. Above 5 m, the behaviour of ϕm and ϕT is only qualitatively similar and surface‐layer similarity theory does not provide a good description of the profiles. Turbulence length scales have been deduced from vertical velocity power spectra. Under near‐neutral conditions, the ratio of turbulence length scale to measurement height is observed to decrease with increasing height of measurement. This observation is consistent with the variation of turbulence length scale with height implied by the measurements of ϕm. It is suggested that the stability of the overlying atmosphere restricts the depth of the turbulent boundary layer and hence the length scales of turbulence within this layer. Increasing stability causes a decrease of turbulence length scales at all levels. The ratios of turbulence kinetic energy to stress and temperature variance to heat flux are examined. Measurements are somewhat scattered, but the distribution of values varies little with height or stability. the form of the distribution suggests that large‐scale motions, possibly internal gravity waves, may be playing an important role in boundary‐layer processes.


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Authors: King, John C. ORCIDORCID record for John C. King

On this site: John King
1 January, 1990
Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society / 116
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