A simple model of the convective internal boundary layer and its application to surface heat flux estimates within polynyas

Ian A. Renfrew, John C. King

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A simple model of the convective (thermal) internalboundary layer has been developed for climatologicalstudies of air-sea-ice interaction, where in situobservations are scarce and first-order estimates ofsurface heat fluxes are required. It is amixed-layer slab model, based on a steady-statesolution of the conservation of potentialtemperature equation, assuming a balance betweenadvection and turbulent heat-flux convergence. Boththe potential temperature and the surface heat fluxare allowed to vary with fetch, so the subsequentboundary-layer modification alters the fluxconvergence and thus the boundary-layer growth rate.For simplicity, microphysical and radiativeprocesses are neglected.

The model is validated using several case studies.For a clear-sky cold-air outbreak over a coastalpolynya the observed boundary-layer heights,mixed-layer potential temperatures and surface heatfluxes are all well reproduced. In other cases,where clouds are present, the model still capturesmost of the observed boundary-layer modification,although there are increasing discrepancies withfetch, due to the neglected microphysical andradiative processes. The application of the model toclimatological studies of air-sea interaction withincoastal polynyas is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-356
Number of pages22
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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