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Abstract

The flux of sensible heat from the land surface is related to the average rate of dissipation of temperature fluctuations in the atmospheric surface layer through the temperature variance budget equation. In many cases it is desirable to estimate the heat flux from measurement or inference of the dissipation rate. Here we study how the dissipation rate scales with atmospheric stability, using three inertial range methods to calculate the dissipation rate: power spectra, second order structure functions, and third order structure functions. Experimental data are analyzed from a pair of field experiments, during which turbulent fluctuations of velocity and temperature were measured over a broad range of neutral and unstable atmospheric flows. It is shown that the temperature dissipation rate scales with a single convective power law continuously from near-neutral to strongly unstable stratification. The dissipation scaling is found to nearly match production in the near-neutral region, but to be consistently lower than production in the more convective regimes. The convective scaling is shown to offer a simplified means of computing sensible heat flux from the dissipation rate of temperature variance.

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