Estimating Turbulence Kinetic Energy Dissipation Rates in the Numerically Simulated Stratocumulus Cloud-Top Mixing Layer: Evaluation of Different Methods

Akinlabi E.O., Wacławczyk M., Mellado J.P., and Malinowski S.P.

Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences

76(5), 2019, 1471–1488, 10.1175/JAS-D-18-0146.1

In this work, direct numerical simulation (DNS) of the stratocumulus cloud-top mixing layer is used to test various approaches to estimate the turbulence kinetic energy (TKE) dissipation rate ε from one-dimensional (1D) intersections that resemble experimental series. Results of these estimates are compared with “true” (DNS) values of ε in buoyant and inhomogeneous atmospheric flows. We focus on recently proposed methods of the TKE dissipation-rate retrievals based on zero crossings and recovering the missing part of the spectrum. These methods are tested on fully resolved turbulence fields and compared to standard retrievals from power spectra and structure functions. Anisotropy of turbulence due to buoyancy is shown to influence retrievals based on the vertical velocity component. TKE dissipation-rate estimates from the number of crossings correspond well to spectral estimates. The method based on the recovery of the missing part of the spectrum works best for Pope’s model of the dissipation spectrum and is sensitive to external intermittency. This allows for characterization of external intermittency by the Taylor-to-Liepmann scale ratio. Further improvements of this method are possible when the variance of the velocity derivative is used instead of the number of zero crossings per unit length. In conclusion, the new methods of TKE dissipation-rate retrieval from 1D series provide a valuable complement to standard approaches.