Boundary layer

Definition of Boundary Layer

The term boundary layer originates from fluid dynamics, denoting the layer of fluid in close proximity to a bounding surface where viscosity exhibits a substantial influence. In atmospheric terms, the boundary layer signifies the air layer near the ground that experiences diurnal transfer of heat, moisture, or momentum to or from the surface.

Characteristics of the Boundary Layer

The boundary layer's thickness hinges upon the equilibrium between the surface and the free-stream flow. Under stable conditions, the boundary layer may remain relatively thin, whereas in turbulent or unstable conditions, it may rise several hundreds of meters above the surface. A characteristic feature of the boundary layer is the velocity gradient, with fluid at the surface having zero relative velocity, and velocity augmenting farther from the surface until it aligns with the free-stream velocity.

Atmospheric Boundary Layer

The atmospheric boundary layer serves as a pivotal element in weather and climate, functioning as the interface between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere. It facilitates the exchange of energy, momentum, and mass between the atmosphere and the surface, propelling surface winds, evaporation, and other vital weather and climate processes.

Boundary Layer in Aerodynamics

The boundary layer holds significant relevance in aerodynamics, particularly in studying flow around bodies—aircraft wings or wind turbine blades. The nature of the boundary layer, whether laminar or turbulent, affects the drag and lift forces exerted on the body, thus shaping its performance.

Implications in Climate Studies

In climate research, comprehension of the boundary layer's properties is imperative, as it primarily mediates the exchange of heat, moisture, and momentum between the Earth's surface and the atmosphere. Modifications in land usage and surface attributes can alter the behavior of the boundary layer, and consequently, have an effect on local and regional weather and climate patterns.
Updated: May 25, 2023
Published by: Weather U.S. | About Us