Scales of response of the convective boundary layer to land-surface heterogeneity

Somnath Baidya Roy, Roni Avissar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The convective boundary layer (CBL) over domains with meso-γ-scale (2-20 km) heterogeneity is characterized by preferentially located, organized rolls of characteristic size equivalent to the length-scale of the heterogeneity. Additionally, random turbulent thermals also develop when the length-scale of the heterogeneity exceeds 5-10 km. This is due to a complex interaction between the horizontal pressure gradient generated by the heterogeneity and the buoynacy forcing. Consequently, the corresponding wavelet spectrum exhibits two peaks - one representing the turbulent thermals at a characteristic scale of about 1.5 times the CBL height and another denoting the organized eddies at a scale similar to that of the heterogeneity. This implies that subgrid-scale parameterizations in models with grid size larger than 5-10 km, which account only for random turbulence, are inadequate for heterogeneous domains. Also, this study may provide a more objective classification of scales of atmospheric processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)533-536
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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