Sub-Gridscale Studies, 2000 (aka HATS)

09/01/2000 - 10/01/2000
Project Location
San Joaquin Valley, CA

A field experiment is proposed to study the response of small turbulent eddies to large turbulent motions and to develop better subgrid-scale (SGS) models for large eddy simulation (LES). LES is a popular numerical tool for studying turbulence; in this technique, a turbulent flow field is divided between resolved-scale eddies (which are also referred to as the filtered field or large eddies) and unresolved eddies (also referred to as the SGS or small eddies). The large eddies are explicitly calculated, while the effect of SGS eddies on the resolved-scale flow field is parameterized. Developing such a SGS model requires data that separate the turbulent motion into two components: filtered and SGS fields.

A method of measuring both filtered and SGS motions using a two-level array of 3-component sonic anemometers was recently proposed by Tong et al. (1999). A primary line consisting of nine sonic anemometers provides both filtered and SGS fields (velocity and temperature) at five points and also the SGS stresses at the center point; and a second line consisting of five more sonic anemometers is used to determine the strain rate of the resolved-scale field. This array allows us to examine relationships between the SGS and the resolved-scale motions in the atmospheric surface layer. In the proposed research, we will focus on the SGS response to stability effects, and also test two specific SGS models.

The proposed work is our first step towards a long-term, collective effort among LES practitioners, turbulence researchers and micrometeorology experimentalists to address complicated problems such as diffusion and chemical reactions in stable boundary layers where turbulence is intermittent; interactions between boundary-layer turbulence and the Earth's surface (both over ocean and land); and entrainment across strongly-stratified capping inversions where small-scale turbulent motions may dominate. To gain insights into these problems, we wish to take advantage of both field experiments and state-of-the-art numerical techniques: using field data to develop a proper SGS model for LES, and then applying LES to systematically tackle the processes listed above.


Objective and Motivation


LES is increasingly used for studying PBL turbulence. It has been treated as "ground truth" in many applications, such as developing PBL parameterization schemes (e.g., Moeng and Wyngaard 1989). The premise of the LES technique is that large eddies, which contain most of the energy and carry most of the fluxes, are properly resolved, while small eddies (the unresolved motions) are parameterized. This is justified in the bulk of the PBL where energy-containing eddies are large and well-resolved and there is a wide spectral gap between the energy-containing eddies and the SGS eddies; there LES solutions have been shown to be insensitive to the SGS treatment (e.g., Nieuwstadt, et al. 1993).


However, in near-surface or stably-stratified regions, energy-containing eddies are small, and hence the SGS turbulence becomes important for the transport of heat, momentum and other constituents. It is in these applications that LES requires a carefully calibrated SGS model. Our need is well summarized by Wyngaard (1998): "Given the sociological indications about the dominant role of LES in our community, I suggest we pragmatically accept today's leading experimental challenge as that of testing and calibrating LES. LES involves resolvable-scale and subgrid-scale it requires an entirely different mindset of the experimentalist. (SGS) fluxes in LES are random variables, not expected values... This poses a new set of experimental problems for micrometeorologists." We need this kind of new experimental approach to improve SGS models, since only with improved SGS models can the LES technique be used to address the complicated geophysical turbulence problems discussed here.


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