Analysis of Model Results for the Turning of the Wind and Related Momentum Fluxes in the Stable Boundary Layer

G. Svensson, A.A.M. Holtslag

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56 Citations (Scopus)


The turning of wind with height and the related cross-isobaric (ageostrophic) flow in the thermally stable stratified boundary layer is analysed from a variety of model results acquired in the first Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) Atmospheric Boundary Layer Study (GABLS1). From the governing equations in this particular simple case it becomes clear that the cross-isobaric flow is solely determined by the surface turbulent stress in the direction of the geostrophic wind for the quasi-steady state conditions under consideration. Most models indeed seem to approach this relationship but for very different absolute values. Because turbulence closures used in operational models typically tend to give too deep a boundary layer, the integrated total cross-isobaric mass flux is up to three times that given by research numerical models and large-eddy simulation. In addition, the angle between the surface and the geostrophic wind is typically too low, which has important implications for the representation of the larger-scale flow. It appears that some models provide inconsistent results for the surface angle and the momentum flux profile, and when the results from these models are removed from the analysis, the remaining ten models do show a unique relationship between the boundary-layer depth and the surface angle, consistent with the theory given. The present results also imply that it is beneficial to locate the first model level rather close to the surface for a proper representation of the turning of wind with height in the stable boundary layer
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-277
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • large-eddy simulation
  • turbulence
  • scheme

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