Atmospheric boundary layers with weak stratification are relatively well described by similarity theory and numerical models for stationary horizontally homogeneous conditions. With common strong stratification, similarity theory becomes unreliable. The turbulence structure and interactions with the mean flow and small-scale nonturbulent motions assume a variety of scenarios. The turbulence is intermittent and may no longer fully satisfy the usual conditions for the definition of turbulence. Nonturbulent motions include wave-like motions and solitary modes, two-dimensional vortical modes, microfronts, intermittent drainage flows, and a host of more complex structures. The main source of turbulence may not be at the surface, but rather may result from shear above the surface inversion. The turbulence is typically not in equilibrium with the nonturbulent motions, sometimes preventing the formation of an inertial subrange. New observational and analysis techniques are expected to advance our understanding of the very stable boundary layer.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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