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Conference Paper

Cloud transitions and decoupling in the shear-free stratocumulus topped PBL

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Stevens, B. (2000). Cloud transitions and decoupling in the shear-free stratocumulus topped PBL. In 14th Symposium on Boundary Layers and Turbulence, Snowmass, CO, USA. Amer. Meteor. Soc.

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Large-eddy simulations are used to investigate basic dynamical processes thought to be responsible for decoupling of stratocumulus as PBL air moves equatorward in the trades. The simulations indicate that shear-free stratocumulus -topped mixed layers are unable to remain well mixed if so doing requires negative buoyancy fluxes anywhere in the flow interior. The tendency toward a two-layer structure becomes particularly strong as the negative area in the buoyancy flux profile necessary to maintain a mixed layer increases to more than 10\% of the positive area. The simulations provide convincing evidence that flux-partitioning closures for entrainment are incompatible with the turbulent dynamics of the shear-free stratocumulus-topped planetary boundary layer. Lastly the simulations demonstrate that velocity scales for free convection depend on the geometry of the buoyancy-flux profile, and not simply its integral.