A new, parameter-free method, based on orthonormal wavelet expansions is proposed for calculating the principal time scale of coherent structures in atmospheric surface layer measurements. These organized events play an important role in the exchange of heat, mass, and momentum between the land and the atmosphere. This global technique decomposes the energy contribution at each scale into organized and random eddy motion. The method is demonstrated on vertical wind velocity measurements above bare and vegetated surfaces. It is found to give nearly identical results to a local thresholding approach developed for signal de-noising that assigns the wavelet coefficients to organized and random motion. The effect of applying anti- and/or near-symmetrical wavelet basis functions is also investigated.