While most fundamental studies of turbulence consider idealized turbulent flows (e.g. statistically stationary, isotropic etc), turbulent flows in the atmosphere are far from ideal. In many respects they are highly non-stationary, strongly inhomogeneous and anisotropic, and are subject to various large scale flow complexities. We are working to understand how these atmospheric complexities affect turbulence, and the implications this has for mixing and transport in the atmosphere.
In a recent study, we explored the effects of mechanical generation of turbulent kinetic energy and buoyancy forces on the statistics of air temperature and velocity increments at the crossover from production to inertial range scales. To do this, we use experimental data obtained from the Blackwood Division of the Duke Forest, and apply various analysis methods to explore the behavior.
Our results showed that external boundary conditions, and in particular the magnitude and sign of the sensible heat flux, has a significant impact on temperature advection diffusion dynamics within the inertial range of turbulence. More details can be found at https://journals.aps.org/prfluids/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevFluids.3.094604.