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Bulk formula in air sea flux

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Use the bulk aerodynamic formula to calculate the evaporation rate from the ocean,

assuming a transfer coefficient for evaporation CDE = 10

!3

, a surface wind speed U=5 m/s,

and that the reference-level air temperature is 2 K less than the sea surface temperature.

Calculate the evaporation rate for (a) surface temperature Ts = 0C, saturation specific

humidity at the surface qs* = 3.75 " 10

!3

, relative humidity H = 50%; (b) Ts = 0C, qs* =

3.75"10

!3

, H = 100%; (c) Ts =30C, qs* = 27"10

!3

, H = 50%; (d) Ts = 30C, qs* = 27 "

10

!3

, H = 100%. Assume a fixed air density of 1.2 kg m

!3

. How would you evaluate the

importance of relative humidity versus the importance of surface temperature for

determining the evaporation rate?

The bulk aerodynamic formulas give us the turbulent sensible (SH) and latent heat (LE)

fluxes from the surface to the atmosphere in terms of the mean wind speed and temperature (for

SH) or specific humidity (for LE) differences between the surface and the atmosphere. For this

problem, we are only concerned with the latent heat flux equation, since we are interested in

calculating the evaporation rate. One form of this equation is:

(1) LE = !LC

DE

U q

s

*

1" RH ( ) + RH

#q

*

#T

T

s

" T

a

( )

$

%

&

'

(

)

See page 101 in chapter 4 of Hartmann or the class notes for a derivation of this equation.

In (1), ! is the air density, L is the latent heat of vaporization, CDE is the transfer coefficient for

evaporation, U is the mean wind speed, qs* is the saturation specific humidity, RH is the relative

humidity, and (Ts - Ta) is the difference between the sea surface temperature and the reference-

level air temperature. "q*/"T the rate of change of the saturation mixing ratio of water vapor with

temperature, and can be approximated using the Clausius-Clapeyron equation by:

(2)

!q

*

!T

" q

*

T ( )

L

R

v

T

2

#

$

%

&

'

(

where Rv is the gas constant for water vapor (461 J/kg/K). We now have all of the information we

need to calculate the heat loss from the surface due to evaporation.

ESE 101 HW #6 Solutions

1

Table 1: Evaporation rates as a function of surface

temperature (Ts) and relative humidity (RH)

Ts = 0C Ts = 30C

RH = 50%

RH = 100%

32.2 W/m

2

219 W/m

2

8.19 W/m

2

45.2 W/m

2

2. Calculate the Bowen ratio using the bulk aerodynamic formulas for surface temperatures

of 0, 15, and 30C, if the relative humidity of the air at the reference level is 70% and the

airsea temperature difference is 2 K. (Assume equal transfer coefficients for sensible

and latent heat.)

The Bowen ratio is the ratio of sensible to latent surface energy fluxes. Using the bulk

aerodynamic formulas,

(3a) SH = c

p

!C

DH

U

r

T

s

" T

r

( )

(3b) LE = L!C

DE

U

r

q

s

" q

r

( )

we can write an expression for the Bowen ratio, assuming that CDH = CDE:

(4) B

0

=

SH

LE

=

c

p

L

T

s

! T

r

( )

q

s

! q

r

( )

Here qs is the surface specific humidity, which is equal to q*(Ts) or qs*, and qr is the specific

humidity at the reference level. Using the definition of relative humidity:

(5) RH =

q

q

*

,

ESE 101 HW #6 Solutions

2

we can express the specific humidity at the reference level as qr = RH qr*. Then, we can linearize

this term:

(6) q

r

*

= q

s

*

+

!q

*

!T

T

a

" T

s

( ) + ... ,

neglecting higher order terms. Substituting these two expressions into (5) yields:

(7) B

0

=

c

p

L

T

s

! T

r

( )

q

s

*

! RH " q

r

*

( )

=

c

p

L

T

s

! T

r

( )

q

s

*

1! RH ( ) + RH

#q

*

#T

T

s

! T

r

( )

$

%

&

'

(

)

We can substitute equation (2) for "q*/"T. The saturation specific humidity is a function of

temperature, and can be calculated by integrating the Clausius Clapeyron equation, or read off of

a table or figure (i.e. figure 4.10 in Hartmann). We are already given qs*(0C) and qs*(30C)

from problem 1. Plugging these numbers into (7), we obtain:

Ts = 0C: B0 = 0.533

Ts = 15C: B0 = 0.234

Ts = 30C: B0 = 0.080

As the surface temperature increases, latent heat flux becomes more important relative to

the sensible heat flux.

3. Use the results of problem 2 to explain why high-latitude land areas often have high

surface moisture content.

Temperature decreases with latitude, and according to problem #2, this indicates that the

Bowen ratio decreases with latitude as well. More of the surface energy goes to driving sensible

heat fluxes than latent heat fluxes (evaporation) as latitude increases. Since insolation also

decreases with latitude, this implies that evaporation decreases with latitude as well.

Precipitation, however, does not decrease with latitude as rapidly, therefore higher latitudes tend

to have a higher surface moisture content than lower latitudes.

ESE 101 HW #6 Solutions

3

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