A Combined Eddy-Diffusivity Mass-Flux Approach for the Convective Boundary Layer

Siebesma AP, Soares PMM, Teixeira J
Journal of Atmospheric Sciences, 64:1230-1248

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A better conceptual understanding and more realistic parameterizations of convective boundary layers in climate and weather prediction models have been major challenges in meteorological research. In particular, parameterizations of the dry convective boundary layer, in spite of the absence of water phase-changes and its consequent simplicity as compared to moist convection, typically suffer from problems in attempting to represent realistically the boundary layer growth and what is often referred to as countergradient fluxes. The eddy-diffusivity (ED) approach has been relatively successful in representing some characteristics of neutral boundary layers and surface layers in general. The mass-flux (MF) approach, on the other hand, has been used for the parameterization of shallow and deep moist convection. In this paper, a new approach that relies on a combination of the ED and MF parameterizations (EDMF) is proposed for the dry convective boundary layer. It is shown that the EDMF approach follows naturally from a decomposition of the turbulent fluxes into 1) a part that includes strong organized updrafts, and 2) a remaining turbulent field. At the basis of the EDMF approach is the concept that nonlocal subgrid transport due to the strong updrafts is taken into account by the MF approach, while the remaining transport is taken into account by an ED closure. Large-eddy simulation (LES) results of the dry convective boundary layer are used to support the theoretical framework of this new approach and to determine the parameters of the EDMF model. The performance of the new formulation is evaluated against LES results, and it is shown that the EDMF closure is able to reproduce the main properties of dry convective boundary layers in a realistic manner. Furthermore, it will be shown that this approach has strong advantages over the more traditional countergradient approach, especially in the entrainment layer. As a result, this EDMF approach opens the way to parameterize the clear and cumulus-topped boundary layer in a simple and unified way.