Terms of Reference

Turbulence is a fluid phenomenon with spatial dimensions that, on a geophysical scale, can range over nine orders of magnitude. The small-scale, three-dimensional dissipative motions of the atmospheric or oceanic boundary layers are at the small end; two-dimensional geostrophic turbulence at planetary scales is at the large end. In between are a host of important geophysical processes.

For example, the atmospheric boundary layer, the oceanic mixed layer, and the oceanic bottom boundary layer are turbulent by definition. Turbulence is an important process within clouds. Most of us have experienced clear-air turbulence in airplanes high in the atmosphere. Turbulence transfers momentum in the atmosphere, in the ocean, and across the interface between the two; likewise, it disperses pollutants and natural contaminants in the two fluids. The turbulence terms are important components of the energy and constituent budgets of the two fluids. The stably stratified, yet sometimes turbulent, upper atmosphere, nocturnal boundary layer and deep ocean interior present unique problems and processes because of the temporal and spatial intermittency of that turbulence. At the opposite extreme is atmospheric and oceanic convection, where unstable stratification fosters continuous turbulence.

The study of all of these processes falls within the purview of the Committee on Boundary Layers and Turbulence. Among these, the Committee's special focus is on processes in the atmospheric boundary layer and in the upper ocean from the thermocline to the surface. Because of the breadth of these topics and the fact that they encompass both ocean and atmosphere and the interaction between the two, the Committee may frequently collaborate on projects with other technical committees of the Society.

The following goals will guide the operation of the Committee:

  1. maintain cognizance of research in boundary layers and turbulence and of how this new knowledge is being applied to problems of atmospheric and oceanic forecasting, weather modification, agriculture, biometeorology, pollution and contaminant dispersal, urban and regional planning, effects of turbulence on structures, and other fields;
  2. facilitate the exchange of information both within the field of boundary layers and turbulence and between this field and related scientific fields by sponsoring scientific meetings, offering short courses, and encouraging publication;
  3. 3. encourage model validation and standardization, for example, by organizing workshops for comparing model results with data and by setting computational standards, such as the spectral range over which to compute fluxes;
  4. encourage young scientists to enter the field of boundary layers and turbulence, for example, by formally recognizing the best student papers presented at scientific meetings sponsored by the Committee;
  5. maintain communications with other AMS technical committees and with other scientific societies and organizations;
  6. assist the Society with its educational and informational programs that relate to turbulence and atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers;
  7. respond to requests and directives from the Council and officers of the Society and from the Scientific and Technological Activities Commission that fall within the Committee's purview; and
  8. inform the Society, the Council, and the Scientific and Technological Activities Commission of the deliberations, activities, and plans of the Committee.
  9. Nominate distinguished individuals to become Fellows and to receive awards of the Society.