Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 122, Issue 2, pp 439–455 | Cite as

Nonstationarity of turbulent heat fluxes at Summit, Greenland

  • Nicolas J. Cullen
  • Konrad Steffen
  • Peter D. Blanken
Original Paper


Turbulence data collected over a total of 25 days during two summers are used to describe processes responsible for the nonstationarity of turbulent sensible heat fluxes at Summit, Greenland. A stationarity test shows that about 40% of the data are classified as nonstationary. Three main factors are explored to account for the large fraction of nonstationary runs: (1) intermittency of turbulence in stable conditions, (2) changes in net all-wave radiation in response to cloud forcing, and (3) diurnal trends in stability. A classification procedure that accounts for the intermittent nature of turbulence shows that during stable, nonstationary conditions 50% of the total sensible heat flux is realized in 22% of the sampling time. Intermittency often occurs at Summit during periods characterized by weak and irregular horizontal winds in combination with strong stability. Rapid changes in net all-wave radiation in response to cloud forcing results in nonstationarity during unstable conditions. Between 0930–1130 and 1900–1930 UTC turbulent heat fluxes are not only small in magnitude but also typically change sign, with nonstationarity during these periods often as high as 65%. These results should help resolve some of the present uncertainties in obtaining reliable fluxes at this site, in particular under stable atmospheric conditions.


Greenland ice sheet Intermittency Nonstationarity Sensible heat fluxes 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicolas J. Cullen
    • 1
  • Konrad Steffen
    • 2
  • Peter D. Blanken
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Earth and Atmospheric SciencesUniversity of InnsbruckInnsbruckAustria
  2. 2.Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, UCB 216University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geography, UCB 260University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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