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Boundary Layer Notes 5. Observational Techniques. Observational Techniques. Sources: Kaimal & Finnegan, Atmospheric Boundary Layer Flows: their structure and measurement, Oxford University Press, 1994 In situ techniques: Important boundary layer measurements:

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Boundary layer notes 5
Boundary Layer Notes 5

  • Observational Techniques


Observational techniques
Observational Techniques

Sources: Kaimal & Finnegan, Atmospheric Boundary Layer Flows: their structure and measurement, Oxford University Press, 1994

  • In situ techniques:

    • Important boundary layer measurements:

      T, u, v, w, q, trace gases (e.g. CO2, CH4)


Observational techniques1
Observational Techniques

We need to measure both mean quantities and fluctuations.

  • Why fluctuations? After all we can use flux-gradient relationships to determine fluxes using mean conditions. Answer: because we don’t know if we can trust the flux-gradient relationships; especially in very turbulent, nearly well-mixed boundary layers.



  • For fluctuations, we need to get more clever. (thermistors, wind vanes, cup-anemometers, propellers, hygristors, psychrometer, dew-point hygrometer)

  • Why? Response time. We need independent measurements every 0.1 s to produce reliable flux measurements.

  • Solution: sonic anemometers, sonic thermometers, and TDL (and other radiometric) observations of trace gases.

  • How do sonic anemometers work?

  • Derive speed of sound c = √gamma RTv/m

  • Note approximateness of Tv dependence… derive (1 + 0.38e/p) factor….

  • Sketch sonic anemometer layout, to justify Vd = c2/2d*(t2-t1),

  • (old fashioned measurement, when anemometer only measures the difference between the times).

  • Vd = d/2*(1/t1 – 1/t2)

  • Mast issues… have to place instruments far away, and not down-wind of towers.


  • Remote sensing (thermistors, wind vanes, cup-anemometers, propellers, hygristors, psychrometer, dew-point hygrometer) —fine for mean state of boundary layer, not for direct flux measurements.

  • Describe

    • radar wind profiles

    • Sodar

    • Lidar

    • Radio Acoustic Sounding System (bouncing radar off of density gradients caused by sound wave emissions).(lidar very expensive as of ’94 anyway).

    • Old wind profilers weren’t useful for boundary layer studies because their minimum ranges were ~1 km. Newer ones at 915 Mhz can measure from 100 m to 1.5 km + with 50 m resolution. But time constant is still ~a few minutes.


Sonic anemometer
Sonic Anemometer (thermistors, wind vanes, cup-anemometers, propellers, hygristors, psychrometer, dew-point hygrometer)

Derive speed of sound:

Sketch anemometer layout, and derive:


Sonic anemometer cont d
Sonic Anemometer, cont’d. (thermistors, wind vanes, cup-anemometers, propellers, hygristors, psychrometer, dew-point hygrometer)

  • We can now make our measurement of the temperature more accurate, by adding together the reciprocals of the separate times, and if we’re using a three-dimensional sonic anemometer, we can get t1 and t2 from the vertical anemometer axis, and Vn from the magnitude of the horizontal wind.


A bunch of sonic anemometers from (thermistors, wind vanes, cup-anemometers, propellers, hygristors, psychrometer, dew-point hygrometer)

Applied Technologies. Data rates range from 10/s to 1/s.f


Li-Cor (brand) IR absorbtion Gas Analyzers. (thermistors, wind vanes, cup-anemometers, propellers, hygristors, psychrometer, dew-point hygrometer)

Funny-looking one is an open cell, for eddy-correlation measurements.


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