Articles | Volume 10, issue 8
Research article
23 Aug 2017
Research article |  | 23 Aug 2017

Evaluation of turbulence measurement techniques from a single Doppler lidar

Timothy A. Bonin, Aditya Choukulkar, W. Alan Brewer, Scott P. Sandberg, Ann M. Weickmann, Yelena L. Pichugina, Robert M. Banta, Steven P. Oncley, and Daniel E. Wolfe

Abstract. Measurements of turbulence are essential to understand and quantify the transport and dispersal of heat, moisture, momentum, and trace gases within the planetary boundary layer (PBL). Through the years, various techniques to measure turbulence using Doppler lidar observations have been proposed. However, the accuracy of these measurements has rarely been validated against trusted in situ instrumentation. Herein, data from the eXperimental Planetary boundary layer Instrumentation Assessment (XPIA) are used to verify Doppler lidar turbulence profiles through comparison with sonic anemometer measurements. For 17 days at the end of the experiment, a single scanning Doppler lidar continuously cycled through different turbulence measurement strategies: velocity–azimuth display (VAD), six-beam scans, and range–height indicators (RHIs) with a vertical stare.

Measurements of turbulence kinetic energy (TKE), turbulence intensity, and stress velocity from these techniques are compared with sonic anemometer measurements at six heights on a 300 m tower. The six-beam technique is found to generally measure turbulence kinetic energy and turbulence intensity the most accurately at all heights (r2  ≈  0.78), showing little bias in its observations (slope of  ≈  0. 95). Turbulence measurements from the velocity–azimuth display method tended to be biased low near the surface, as large eddies were not captured by the scan. None of the methods evaluated were able to consistently accurately measure the shear velocity (r2 =  0.15–0.17). Each of the scanning strategies assessed had its own strengths and limitations that need to be considered when selecting the method used in future experiments.

Short summary
Three different techniques for measuring turbulent quantities from a single Doppler lidar are evaluated against in situ observations for verification. A six-beam method generally produced the most accurate measurements of the turbulence quantities evaluated. Generally, turbulence kinetic energy can be accurately measured across all scales from a Doppler lidar. Individual velocity variances are measured less accurately, and velocity covariances are shown to be difficult to measure.