Articles | Volume 15, issue 10
Research article
20 May 2015
Research article |  | 20 May 2015

Profiles of second- to fourth-order moments of turbulent temperature fluctuations in the convective boundary layer: first measurements with rotational Raman lidar

A. Behrendt, V. Wulfmeyer, E. Hammann, S. K. Muppa, and S. Pal

Abstract. The rotational Raman lidar (RRL) of the University of Hohenheim (UHOH) measures atmospheric temperature profiles with high resolution (10 s, 109 m). The data contain low-noise errors even in daytime due to the use of strong UV laser light (355 nm, 10 W, 50 Hz) and a very efficient interference-filter-based polychromator. In this paper, the first profiling of the second- to fourth-order moments of turbulent temperature fluctuations is presented. Furthermore, skewness profiles and kurtosis profiles in the convective planetary boundary layer (CBL) including the interfacial layer (IL) are discussed. The results demonstrate that the UHOH RRL resolves the vertical structure of these moments. The data set which is used for this case study was collected in western Germany (50°53'50.56'' N, 6°27'50.39'' E; 110 m a.s.l.) on 24 April 2013 during the Intensive Observations Period (IOP) 6 of the HD(CP)2 (High-Definition Clouds and Precipitation for advancing Climate Prediction) Observational Prototype Experiment (HOPE). We used the data between 11:00 and 12:00 UTC corresponding to 1 h around local noon (the highest position of the Sun was at 11:33 UTC). First, we investigated profiles of the total noise error of the temperature measurements and compared them with estimates of the temperature measurement uncertainty due to shot noise derived with Poisson statistics. The comparison confirms that the major contribution to the total statistical uncertainty of the temperature measurements originates from shot noise. The total statistical uncertainty of a 20 min temperature measurement is lower than 0.1 K up to 1050 m a.g.l. (above ground level) at noontime; even for single 10 s temperature profiles, it is smaller than 1 K up to 1020 m a.g.l. Autocovariance and spectral analyses of the atmospheric temperature fluctuations confirm that a temporal resolution of 10 s was sufficient to resolve the turbulence down to the inertial subrange. This is also indicated by the integral scale of the temperature fluctuations which had a mean value of about 80 s in the CBL with a tendency to decrease to smaller values towards the CBL top. Analyses of profiles of the second-, third-, and fourth-order moments show that all moments had peak values in the IL around the mean top of the CBL which was located at 1230 m a.g.l. The maximum of the variance profile in the IL was 0.39 K2 with 0.07 and 0.11 K2 for the sampling error and noise error, respectively. The third-order moment (TOM) was not significantly different from zero in the CBL but showed a negative peak in the IL with a minimum of −0.93 K3 and values of 0.05 and 0.16 K3 for the sampling and noise errors, respectively. The fourth-order moment (FOM) and kurtosis values throughout the CBL were not significantly different to those of a Gaussian distribution. Both showed also maxima in the IL but these were not statistically significant taking the measurement uncertainties into account. We conclude that these measurements permit the validation of large eddy simulation results and the direct investigation of turbulence parameterizations with respect to temperature.

Short summary
The exchange of energy between the Earth surface and the atmosphere is governed by turbulent processes which form the convective boundary layer (CBL) in daytime. The representation of the CBL in atmospheric models is critical, e.g., for the simulation of clouds and precipitation. We show that a new active remote-sensing technique, rotational Raman lidar, characterizes the turbulent temperature fluctuations in the CBL better than previous techniques and discuss the statistics of a typical case.
Final-revised paper