The turbulent structure of the marine atmospheric boundary layer during and before a cold front

Jian Huang, Zhongshui Zou, Qingcun Zeng, Peiliang Li, Jinbao Song, Lin Wu, Jun A. Zhang, Shuiqing Li, Pak Wai Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The turbulent structure within the marine atmospheric boundary layer is investigated based on four levels of observations at a fixed marine platform. During and before a cold front, the ocean surface is dominated by wind sea and swell waves, respectively, affording the opportunity to test the theory recently proposed in laboratory experiments or for flat land surfaces. The results reveal that the velocity spectra follow a k-1 law within the intermediate wavenumber (k) range immediately below inertial subrange during the cold front. A logarithmic height dependence of the horizontal velocity variances is also observed above the height of 20 m, while the vertical velocity variances increase with increasing height following a power law of 2/3. These features confirm the attached eddy model and the "top-down model"of turbulence over the ocean surface. However, the behavior of velocity variances under swell conditions is much different from those during the cold front, although a remarkable k-1 law can be observed in the velocity spectra. The quadrant analysis of the momentum flux also shows a significantly different result for the two conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)863-875
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Atmosphere-ocean interaction
  • Cold fronts
  • Marine boundary layer
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


Dive into the research topics of 'The turbulent structure of the marine atmospheric boundary layer during and before a cold front'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this