An Overview of Atmospheric Convection

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


The nature of atmospheric convection is briefly reviewed. We can assess the stability of a single air parcel with respect to vertical displacements by comparing the lapse rate of the parcel’s environment to the rate of temperature change within the displaced parcel owing to adiabatic expansion or compression and latent heating or chilling. We also can examine the tendency for convective overturning in a global sense, when buoyancy sources are distributed over a large area and the entire fluid is engaged in convective overturning. In this case, the onset of global dry convection due to thermal instability is determined by the Rayleigh number. Within the atmospheric boundary layer on a sunny day, the Rayleigh number is several orders of magnitude larger than the critical Rayleigh number; thus, convective overturning is a ubiquitous characteristic of the atmospheric boundary layer in sunny conditions. The structure of dry atmospheric convection depends to a large degree on the vertical wind shear within the atmospheric boundary layer, and quite possibly also is sensitive to surface characteristics and mean vertical motions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCISM International Centre for Mechanical Sciences, Courses and Lectures
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages6
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

Publication series

NameCISM International Centre for Mechanical Sciences, Courses and Lectures
ISSN (Print)0254-1971
ISSN (Electronic)2309-3706

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


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