Derivation of turbulent energy dissipation rate with the Middle Atmosphere Alomar Radar System (MAARSY) and radiosondes at Andøya, Norway

Li, Qiang; Rapp, Markus; Schrön, Anne; Schneider, Andreas; Stober, Gunter

We present the derivation of turbulent energy dissipation rate ε from a total of 522 days of observations with the Middle Atmosphere Alomar Radar SYstem (MAARSY) mesosphere–stratosphere–troposphere (MST) radar running tropospheric experiments during the period of 2010–2013 as well as with balloon-borne radiosondes based on a campaign in the summer 2013. Spectral widths are converted to ε after the removal of the broadening effects due to the finite beam width of the radar. With the simultaneous in situ measurements of ε with balloon-borne radiosondes at the MAARSY radar site, we compare the ε values derived from both techniques and reach an encouraging agreement between them. Using all the radar data available, we present a preliminary climatology of atmospheric turbulence in the UTLS (upper troposphere and lower stratosphere) region above the MAARSY site showing a variability of more than 5 orders of magnitude inherent in turbulent energy dissipation rates. The derived ε values reveal a log-normal distribution with a negative skewness, and the ε profiles show an increase with height which is also the case for each individual month. Atmospheric turbulence based on our radar measurements reveals a seasonal variation but no clear diurnal variation in the UTLS region. Comparison of ε with the gradient Richardson number Ri shows that only 1.7 % of all the data with turbulence occur under the condition of Ri < 1 and that the values of ε under the condition of Ri < 1 are significantly larger than those under Ri > 1. Further, there is a roughly negative correlation between ε and Ri that is independent of the scale dependence of Ri. Turbulence under active dynamical conditions (velocity of horizontal wind U > 10 m s −1) is significantly stronger than under quiet conditions ( U < 10 m s −1). Last but not least, the derived ε values are compared with the corresponding vertical shears of background wind velocity showing a linear relation with a corresponding correlation coefficient r = 58 % well above the 99.9 % significance level. This implies that wind shears play an important role in the turbulence generation in the troposphere and lower stratosphere (through the Kelvin–Helmholtz instability).

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Li, Qiang / Rapp, Markus / Schrön, Anne / et al: Derivation of turbulent energy dissipation rate with the Middle Atmosphere Alomar Radar System (MAARSY) and radiosondes at Andøya, Norway. 2016. Copernicus Publications.

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