Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Meteorology and Physical Oceanography (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Bruce A. Albrecht

Second Committee Member

Paquita Zuidema

Third Committee Member

Brian Soden

Fourth Committee Member

Frank Marks, Jr.

Fifth Committee Member

Pavlos Kollias - Outside Committee Member


Boundary layer (BL) stratocumulus clouds are an important factor in the earth's radiation budget due to their high albedo and low cloud top heights. Continental BL stratocumulus clouds are closely coupled to the diurnal cycle and the turbulence in the BL affecting the surface energy and moisture budgets. In this study the turbulence and mass-transport structures in continental BL stratocumulus clouds are studied using data from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurements (ARM)'s Southern Great Plains (SGP) observing facility located at Lamont, Oklahoma. High temporal (4 sec) and spatial (45 m) resolution observations from a vertically pointing 35 GHz cloud Doppler radar were used to obtain the in-cloud vertical velocity probability density function (pdf) in the absence of precipitation size hydrometeors. A total of 70 hours of radar data were analyzed to report halfhourly statistics of vertical velocity variance, skewness, updraft fraction, downdraft and velocity binned mass-flux at five cloud depth normalized levels. The variance showed a general decrease with increase in height in the cloud layer while the skewness is weakly positive in the cloud layer and negative near cloud top. The updraft fraction decreases with height with the decrease mainly occurring in the upper half of the cloud layer. The downdraft fraction increases with decrease in height with the increase being almost linear. The velocity of eddies responsible for maximum mass-transport decreases from of 0.4 ms-1 near cloud base to 0.2 ms-1 near cloud top. The half-hour periods were then classified based on the surface buoyancy flux as stable or unstable and it was found that the variance near cloud top is higher during the stable periods as compared to the unstable periods. Classification was also made based on the cloud depth to BL depth ratio (CBR) being greater or less than 0.3. The variance profile was similar for the classification while the skewness was almost zero during periods with CBR less 0.3 and positive during periods with CBR greater than 0.3. A 14 hour period of stratocumulus cloud on March 25, 2005 was analyzed to study the diurnal changes in the turbulence structure and mass transports. The variance near cloud base during the day time when the BL turbulence is primarily due to surface buoyancy production was higher than during the nighttime when the BL turbulence is driven by radiative cooling near the cloud top. Output from a one dimensional radiative transfer model was analyzed to study the vertical structure of the radiative fluxes. A radiative velocity scale analogous to the surface convective velocity scale is proposed to assess the relative importance of radiative cooling near cloud top in generating turbulence compared with the surface buoyancy production. An attempt was also made to calculate the hourly liquid water flux by combining the high temporal resolution (20 sec) liquid water content estimates from the radar reflectivity and a microwave radiometer with the radar observed vertical velocity. The liquid water flux was found to peak at a level below the cloud top and show a divergence with height that was similar to that from model simulations.


Atmospheric Turbulence; Stratocumulus; Radar Meteorology