Boundary Layer Research

Faculty: Chris Bretherton, Jérôme Patoux, Robert Wood

Kim and Baloon

 Kim pauses on her way to launch a sonde on the aft deck. The UW crew released sondes eight times a day during their 17 days at sea.

Kim and launch

 Up, Up, and Away!

The structure and dynamics of the lowest layer of the atmosphere which comprises the planetary boundary layer (PBL) are of vital importance for the understanding of weather and climate, the dispersion of pollutants, and the exchange of heat, water vapor, and momentum with the underlying surface. Processes of special interest within the PBL include the vertical transfer of momentum, heat and water vapor by turbulence, and the absorption and emission of radiation at the surface and within the atmosphere. One focus of the Boundary-Layer Research Group's efforts is on the development and testing of instrumentation for measuring the turbulent fluctuations of velocity components, temperature and humidity. Another focus is on the theoretical analysis and interpretation of turbulent statistics and flow dynamics. The importance of instabilities, secondary flows, and coherent structures has been an important part of this study. The area of air-sea interaction has been a primary area of research. Several large experiments have been conducted by the department. Present emphasis is on the role of the boundary layer in the growth and decay of cyclones and satellite capabilities in ocean measurements.

Faculty and students are engaged in a variety of field and theoretical projects including the study of surface fluxes, mesoscale variations in boundary-layer structure, and effects of variable terrain and variable seastate. Observations have been made from fixed towers, floating buoys, ships, tethered balloons, aircraft, and satellites. Data from satellite instruments such as scatterometers and multichannel scanning microwave radiometers are being used to infer the global structure of the marine planetary boundary layer. Field studies are made jointly with teams from other universities and research institutes. Departmental researchers have participated in many international research programs in many parts of the globe, from the tropics to the Arctic.

Energy Transfer, Remote Sensing and Planetary Boundary Layer Modeling Group

Climate Processes over the Oceans

Eastern Pacific Investigation of Climate Processes in the Coupled Ocean-Atmosphere System (EPIC)

Wind and Pressure Over the Oceans from Satellite

Sungsu Park and Sonde
Sungsu Park and Computer

Sungsu preparing a rawinsonde for launch during his night shift on the NOAA ship, R/V Ronald H. Brown. Sungsu Park, (Ph.D. 2002) and Kim Comstock were among 4 UW students and one faculty member who traveled to the SE Pacific in Oct 2001 to participate in the EPIC Sc field campaign.


Sungsu concentrates as he analyzes data on
board the NOAA ship, R/V Ronald H. Brown.

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Revised: 06.17.11