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Micrometeorology Boundary Layer Meteorology Surface Energy Budget PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Micrometeorology Boundary Layer Meteorology Surface Energy Budget.

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Micrometeorology Boundary Layer Meteorology Surface Energy Budget

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MicrometeorologyBoundary Layer MeteorologySurface Energy Budget

Micrometeorology is the study of the atmosphere near the surface and its associated turbulence and transport of scalars. It deals with the small horizontal and short temporal scales of motion in meteorology. Typically, less than 1 km and 1 hr.

The atmospheric boundary layer is formed as a consequence of the interactions between the atmosphere and the surface of earth. Micrometeorologists study these interactions.

A variety of instrumentation is used to measure the atmospheric boundary layer and related turbulence.

Stull: Chap: 4 and W&H chap: 9

Boundary Layer Defined

  • A boundary layer is the layer next to a physical boundary such as the inside wall of a pipe. In our case the earth’s surface.

  • Transport processes modify the lowest 100 to 3000 m AGL (above ground level) of the troposphere creating the boundary layer.

  • The atmosphere above the boundary layer is called the free atmosphere, typically.

  • The boundary layer air separates the atmosphere from the earth’s surface. Actually, the atmosphere really doesn’t know that the earth is below it.

Planetary Boundary Layer

The layer of air influenced by surface friction is called the planetary boundary layer (PBL).

Define the boundary layer as that part of the troposphere that is directly influenced by the presence of the earth’s surface, and responds to surface forcings with a timescale of ~ 1 hr or less.

Pollutants in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer

5 August 2006 Evening (6 PM) University of Houston Sounding

University of Houston 26 Sept 2006

0700 CDT





Background: definitions

What is turbulence?

  • Simply defined as perturbation from the mean.

How do we measure u′?

A sonic anemometer measures at very high sampling rates. This is typically at 10 or 20 Hz. Data from a high temporal resolution time series is used to calculate the mean of the time series and subsequently a perturbation from the mean.

Once the perturbations are calculated, turbulent statistics can be calculated.


Net upward

heat flux

w´= neg.


Mixes some air down

And some air up

´= neg.


Turbulent Flux?

  • Transport of a quantity by eddies or swirls.

  • The covariance of a velocity component and any quantity.

Turbulent Sensible Heat Flux

´= +

w´= +

Turbulent Heat Flux

  • Sensible Heat Flux:

  • Latent Heat Flux:


One statistical measure of the dispersion of data about the mean is the

biased variance

It is a good measure of the dispersion of a sample of BL observations. However,

recall that

Substituting this into the biased definition of variance:

Turbulence Kinetic Energy (TKE)

  • is a measure of the intensity of turbulence

  • simply the summed velocity variances

Radiation Definitions

Radiation flux: is the amount of radiation coming from a source per unit time in W.

Radiant intensity: is the radiant flux leaving a point on the source, per unit solid angle of space surrounding the point. [W/steradian]

Radiance: is the radiant flux emitted by a unit area of a source or scattered by a unit area of a surface.[W m-2 sr-1]

Irradiance: is the radiant flux incident on a receiving surface from all directions, per unit area W m-2.

Absorptance, reflectance, transmittance:fractions of the incident flux that are absorbed, reflected, or transmitted by a medium.

Global Solar radiation: is the solar irradiance received on a horizontal surface [W m-2]. This is the sum of direct solar beam plus the diffuse component of skylight, and is the physical quantity measured by a pyranometer.

Radiation Definitions

Visible Radiation: is the spectral range of the standard observer. Most of the visible radiation lies between 400 nm and 730 nm.

Ultraviolet Radiation: is the radiation with wavelengths in the range 100 to 400 nm. It is subdivided into three ranges: UVA is 315-400 nm, UVB is 280-315 nm, and UVC is 100-280 nm.

Infrared Radiation: is the radiation with wavelengths longer than 730 nm.

Radiation Definitions

Direct solar radiation: is the radiation emitted from the solid angle of the sun’s disc, received on a surface perpendicular to the axis of this cone, comprising mainly unscattered and unreflected solar radiation.

At the top of the atmosphere this is usually:

1367 W m-2. The direct solar radiation at the earth’s surface is the physical quantity measured by a pyrheliometer.

Diffuse Solar Radiation: (Sky radiation) is the downward scattered and reflected radiation coming from the whole hemisphere. Diffuse radiation can be measured by a pyranometer mounted in a shadow band.

Radiation Definitions

Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR): is the band of solar radiation between 400-700 nm that plants use in the photosynthesis process. PAR is usually expressed in moles of photons, a mole being Avogadro’s number of photons, 6.022 x 1023 photons.

Albedo: is the fraction of incoming solar radiation to reflected solar radiation.

α = SWreflect / SWincoming

Methods of Measurement

Two primary methods in the measurement of radiation:

Thermal detection: response to heat gain or loss due to absorption of incoming or emission of outgoing radiation.

Photovoltaic detectors: convert absorbed radiation to a voltage.

Shortwave or solar radiation is defined to be 0.3 μm to 4 μm BUT since high-quality glass windows are transparent from 0.3 to 3 μm, an upper limit of 3 μm is generally accepted.

Longwave radiation sensors have windows transparent to radiation from 3 or 4 μmto at least 50 μm.

Types of instruments

Radiation measuring instruments can be classified according to their use. The generic term for all radiation measuring instruments is the radiometer.

A pyranometer is used to measure global solar radiation, so it must respond to both the direct solar beam and to diffuse sky radiation from the whole hemisphere. The sensing element must be a horizontal flat surface.

A pyrgeometer is used to measure global, long-wave earth radiation.

An instrument that measures the difference between incoming and outgoing radiation is called a pyrradiometer or netradiometer.


Typical sensitivity of a thermopile pyranometer is 4 μV W-1 m2 and the time constant 5 s.

Surface Energy Budget

The energy budget at the earth’s surface can be thought of as energy transferred through a layer at the surface. This includes turbulent energy transfer with the air above it, radiative transfer through the top of it, and molecular energy transfer into the soil below it.

-Q* = QH + QE – QG + ΔQs

-Q* = net upward radiation at surface

QH = upward sensible heat flux

QE = upward latent heat flux

QG = upward molecular heat flux into the bottom

ΔQS = storage/residual






Surface Radiation Budget



Diffuse and direct

Turbulent Heat Fluxes from Tower at UH Coastal Center

(10 min Ave of Covariances)

Surface Energy Balance: Q*=QH+QL+QG

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