Boundary Layer & Surface Interactions

Urban energy and trace gas fluxes from a tall tower in Houston; photo by Marty Hale, MSc 2014

Urban energy and trace gas fluxes from a tall tower in Houston; photo by Marty Hale, MSc 2014

The boundary layer is the shallow near-surface air layer in which we live and breath. At the surface, that air layer exchanges momentum, energy, and trace gases at solid and liquid interfaces. Winds are slowed and displaced through friction, 3D objects like trees and buildings cause atmospheric turbulence while swayed by the wind, solar radiation is converted into sensible and latent heat fluxes from the surface into the atmosphere, soils and plants exchange vital trace gases with the atmosphere, and humans add their own exhaust to the mix, often causing air pollution. Using both measurements and models, scientists study air flows, forces, and turbulence, as well as energy and trace gas fluxes, as a function of land cover and meteorological conditions. Goals include improved weather forecasts for complicated geographic, including urban areas, meso- and microclimate diagnostics, and improving our understanding of how the biosphere, including humans, affect the atmosphere chemically and climatically.

Faculty

Craig Epifanio

Craig Epifanio

Associate Professor

Mesoscale atmospheric dynamics, topographically forced waves and wakes, numerical modeling and scientific computation

John Nielsen-Gammon

John Nielsen-Gammon

Regents Professor

Texas State Climatologist

Dynamics of jet streams and cyclones, air pollution and local-scale circulation, data assimilation, applied climatology

Gunnar Schade

Gunnar Schade

Associate Professor

Trace gas biogeochemistry, air pollution, surface-atmosphere exchange