Heat flux in the coastal zone

L. Mahrt, D. Vickers, J. Edson, J.L. Sun, J. Højstrup, J. Hare, J.M. Wilczak

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearch


    Various difficulties with application of Monin-Obukhov similarity theory are surveyed including the influence of growing waves, advection and internal boundary-layer development. These complications are normally important with offshore flow. The transfer coefficient for heat is computed from eddy correlation data taken at a mast two kilometres off the Danish coast in RASEX. For these coastal zone data, the thermal roughness length shows no well-defined relation to the momentum roughness length or roughness Reynolds number, in contrast to previous theories. The variation of the momentum roughness length is dominated by wave state. In contrast, the thermal roughness length shows significant dependence on wave state only for small values of wave age where the mixing is apparently enhanced by wave breaking. The development of thin internal boundary layers with offshore flow substantially reduces the heat transfer and thermal roughness length but has no obvious influence on momentum roughness length. A new formulation of the thermal roughness length based on the internal boundary-layer depth is calibrated to the RASEX data. For the very stable case, the turbulence is mainly detached from the surface and existing formulations do not apply.

    As an alternative to adjusting the thermal roughness length, the transfer coefficient is related directly to the stability and the internal boundary-layer depth. This avoids specification of roughness lengths resulting from the usual integration of the non-dimensional temperature function. The resulting stability function is simpler than previous ones and satisfies free convection similarity theory without introduction of the gustiness factor. The internal boundary layer also influences the moisture transfer coefficient.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)421-446
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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