Use of obliquely rotated principal component analysis to identify coherent structures

Donald K. Rinker, George S. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Principal component analysis (PCA) with oblique rotation is applied to Large Eddy Simulation (LES) results to discern and quantify coherent structures within the convective boundary layer (CBL). Sensitivity tests are first conducted on a moderately convective LES run. Once the ability of PCA to generate robust results is verified, the method is applied to LES runs spanning a range of stability regimes. Interregime similarities and differences in the coherent structures are discussed, For the moderately convective LES run, three-dimensional convective cells are arrayed in two-dimensional bands aligned with the geostrophic wind. The resulting gravity waves in the free atmosphere and convective inflow and outflow in the boundary layer are also captured by the PCA. Convective modes are more sensitive to the ratio of w* to u* than are the dynamic modes. PCA has demonstrated advantages over previous analysis methods. PCA score maps provide information on the spatial distribution of phenomena that has not been available from traditional conditional sampling studies. Principal components provide information on the vertical structures of phenomena that would be obscured by life-cycle effects or erratic tilts from the vertical in the conventional approaches to either conditional sampling or composite analysis. Future work includes application of this technique to multi-level observational time series from a surface-layer tower for the Risø Air/Sea Experiment (RASEX).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-47
Number of pages29
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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