Using Probability Density Functions to Derive Consistent Closure Relationships among Higher-Order Moments

Larson, Vincent E.; Golaz, Jean-Christophe
April 2005
Monthly Weather Review;Apr2005, Vol. 133 Issue 4, p1023
Academic Journal
Parameterizations of turbulence often predict several lower-order moments and make closure assumptions for higher-order moments. In principle, the low- and high-order moments share the same probability density function (PDF). One closure assumption, then, is the shape of this family of PDFs. When the higher-order moments involve both velocity and thermodynamic scalars, often the PDF shape has been assumed to be a double or triple delta function. This is equivalent to assuming a mass-flux model with no subplume variability. However, PDF families other than delta functions can be assumed. This is because the assumed PDF methodology is fairly general. This paper proposes closures for several third- and fourth-order moments. To derive the closures, the moments are assumed to be consistent with a particular PDF family, namely, a mixture of two trivariate Gaussians. (This PDF is also called a double Gaussian or binormal PDF by some authors.) Separately from the PDF assumption, the paper also proposes a simplified relationship between scalar and velocity skewnesses. This PDF family and skewness relationship are simple enough to yield simple, analytic closure formulas relating the moments. If certain conditions hold, this set of moments is specifically realizable. By this it is meant that the set of moments corresponds to a real Gaussian-mixture PDF, one that is normalized and nonnegative everywhere. This paper compares the new closure formulas with both large eddy simulations (LESs) and closures based on double and triple delta PDFs. This paper does not implement the closures in a single-column model and test them interactively. Rather, the comparisons are diagnostic; that is, low-order moments are extracted from the LES and treated as givens that are input into the closures. This isolates errors in the closures from errors in a single-column model. The test cases are three atmospheric boundary layers: a trade wind cumulus layer, a stratocumulus layer, and a clear convective case. The new closures have shortcomings, but nevertheless are superior to the double or triple delta closures in most of the cases tested.


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