Exploring the possible role of small-scale terrain drag on stable boundary layers over land

G.J. Steeneveld, A.A.M. Holtslag, C.J. Nappo, B.J.H. Wiel, van de, L. Mahrt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

53 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses the possible role of unresolved terrain drag, relative to the turbulent drag on the development of the stable atmospheric boundary layer over land. Adding a first-order estimate for terrain drag to the turbulent drag appears to provide drag that is similar to the enhanced turbulent drag obtained with the so-called long-tail mixing functions. These functions are currently used in many operational models for weather and climate, although they lack a clear physical basis. Consequently, a simple and practical quasi-empirical parameterization of terrain drag divergence for use in large-scale models is proposed and is tested in a column mode. As an outcome, the cross-isobaric mass flow (a measure for cyclone filling) with the new scheme, using realistic turbulent drag, appears to be equal to what is found with the unphysical long-tail scheme. At the same time, the new scheme produces a much more realistic less-deep boundary layer than is obtained by using the long-tail mixing function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2518-2530
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and climatology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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