Open Access

The dynamical parameters of turbulence theory as they apply to middle atmosphere studies

Earth, Planets and Space201451:BF03353213

DOI: 10.1186/BF03353213

Received: 21 August 1998

Accepted: 12 April 1999

Published: 26 June 2014


The study of turbulent heating and diffusion in the middle atmosphere is complicated by some subtle points relating to the application of existing theory. Incorrect interpretation of turbulent spectra can result, leading to errors in estimates of the strengths of turbulence by factors of 5 and more. In this short review, the relevant turbulent spectra and equations are considered, and their applications in middle atmosphere studies are outlined. New developments with regard to some of this theory, and especially new understandings about the dynamical parameters used in some of these applications (often referred to as the “constants” of the equations) are described. Current areas of uncertainty are also considered, both in relation to turbulent energy dissipation as well as diffusion over various scales.