Journal of Fluid Mechanics

Turbulent flow in a stably stratified atmosphere

A. A.  Townsend a1
a1 Emmanuel College, Cambridge

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Fluctuations of velocity and temperature which occur in a turbulent flow in a stably-stratified atmosphere far from restraining boundaries are discussed using the equations for the turbulent intensity and for the mean square temperature fluctuation. From these, an equation is derived for the flux Richardson number in terms of the ordinary Richardson number and some non-dimensional ratios connected with the turbulent motion. It is shown that the interaction between the temperature and velocity fields imposes on the flux Richardson number an upper limit of 0·5, and on the ordinary Richardson number a limit of about 0·08. If these values are exceeded, no equilibrium value of the turbulent intensity can exist and a collapse of the turbulent motion would occur. Although the analysis applies strictly only to a homogeneous non-developing flow, it should have approximate validity for effectively homogeneous, developing flows, and the predictions are compared with some recent observations of these flows.

(Published Online March 28 2006)
(Received July 2 1957)