An evaluation of neutral and convective planetary boundary-layer parameterizations relative to large eddy simulations Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper compares a number of one-dimensional closure models for the planetary boundary layer (PBL) that are currently in use in large-scale atmospheric models. Using the results of a large-eddy a simulation (LES) model as the standard of comparison, the PBL models are evaluated over a range of stratifications from free convective to neutral and a range of surface shear stresses. Capping inversion strengths for the convective cases range from weakly to strongly capped. Six prototypical PBL models are evaluated in this study, which focuses on the accuracy of the boundary-layer fluxes of momentum, heat, and two passive scalars. One scalar mimics humidity and the other is a top-down scalar entrained into the boundary layer from above. A set of measures based on the layer-averaged differences of these fluxes from the LES solutions is developed. In addition to the methodological framework and suite of LES solutions, the main result of the evaluation is the recognition that all of the examined PBL parameterizations have difficulty reproducing the entrainment at the top of the PBL, as given by the LES, in most parameter regimes. Some of the PBL models are relatively accurate in their entrainment flux in a subset of parameter regimes. The sensitivity of the PBL models to vertical resolution is explored, and substantive differences are observed in the performance of the PBL models, relative to LES, at low resolution typical of large scale atmospheric models.

publication date

  • April 1996