Large-Scale Coherent Turbulence Structures in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer over Flat Terrain

Leonardo Alcayaga*, Gunner Chr. Larsen, Mark Kelly, Jakob Mann

*Corresponding author for this work

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We investigate characteristics of large-scale coherent motions in the atmospheric boundary layer using field measurements made with two long-range scanning wind lidars. The joint scans provide quasi-instantaneous wind fields over a domain of ∼50 km2, at two heights above flat but partially forested terrain. Along with the two-dimensional wind fields, two-point statistics and spectra are used to identify and characterize the scales, shape, and anisotropy of coherent structures—as well as their influence on wind field homogeneity. For moderate to high wind speeds in near-neutral conditions, most of the observed structures correspond to narrow streaks of low streamwise momentum near the surface, extending several hundred meters in the streamwise direction; these are associated with positive vertical velocity ejections. For unstable conditions and moderate winds, these structures become large-scale rolls, with longitudinal extent exceeding the measuring domain (>∼5 km); they dominate the conventional surface-layer structures in terms of both physical scale and relative size of velocity-component variances, appearing as quasi-two-dimensional structures throughout the entire boundary layer. The observations shown here are consistent with numerical simulations of atmospheric flows, field observations, and laboratory experiments under similar conditions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number12
Pages (from-to)3219 - 3243
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Boundary layer
  • Large-scale motions
  • Remote sensing
  • Mixed layer
  • Surface layer


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