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We present a proof-of-concept for the adaptive mesh refinement method applied to atmospheric boundary-layer simulations. Such a method may form an attractive alternative to static grids for studies on atmospheric flows that have a high degree of scale separation in space and/or time. Examples include the diurnal cycle and a convective boundary layer capped by a strong inversion. For such cases, large-eddy simulations using regular grids often have to rely on a subgrid-scale closure for the most challenging regions in the spatial and/or temporal domain. Here we analyze a flow configuration that describes the growth and subsequent decay of a convective boundary layer using direct numerical simulation (DNS). We validate the obtained results and benchmark the performance of the adaptive solver against two runs using fixed regular grids. It appears that the adaptive-mesh algorithm is able to coarsen and refine the grid dynamically whilst maintaining an accurate solution. In particular, during the initial growth of the convective boundary layer a high resolution is required compared to the subsequent stage of decaying turbulence. More specifically, the number of grid cells varies by two orders of magnitude over the course of the simulation. For this specific DNS case, the adaptive solver was not yet more efficient than the more traditional solver that is dedicated to these types of flows. However, the overall analysis shows that the method has a clear potential for numerical investigations of the most challenging atmospheric cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)421-443
Number of pages23
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology: an international journal of physical and biological processes in the atmospheric boundary layer
Volume167
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2018

    Research areas

  • Adaptive mesh refinement, Atmospheric boundary layer, Direct numerical simulations, Large-eddy simulations, Turbulence

ID: 43042858