How long is long enough when measuring fluxes and other turbulence statistics?

We determine how long a time series must be to estimate covariances and moments up to fourth order with a specified statistical significance. For a given averaging time T there is a systematic difference between the true flux or moment and the ensemble average of the time means of the same quantities. This difference, which we call the systematic error, is a decreasing function of T tending to zero for T ? ?. The variance of the time mean of the flux or moment, the so-called error variance, represents the random scatter of individual realizations which, when T is much larger the integral time scale T of the time series, is also a decreasing function of T. This makes it possible to assess the minimum value of T necessary to obtain systematic and random errors smaller than specified values. Assuming that the time series are either Gaussian processes with exponential correlation functions or a skewed process derived from a Gaussian, we obtain expressions for the systematic and random errors. These expressions show that the systematic error and the error variance in the limit of large T are both inversely proportional to T which means that the random error, i.e. the square root of the error variance, will in this limit be larger than the systematic error. We demonstrate theoretically, as well as experimentally with aircraft data from the convective boundary layer over the ocean and over land, that the assumption that the time series are Gaussian leads to underestimation of the random errors, while derived processes with a more realistic skewness and kurtosis give better estimates. For fluxes we estimate the systematic and random errors when the time series are sampled instantaneously, but the samples separated in time by an amount ?. We find that the random error variance and the systematic error increase by less than 8% over continuously-sampled data if ? is no larger than the integral scale obtained from the flux time series and the co-spectrum, respectively.

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Author Lenschow, Donald
Mann, Jakob
Kristensen, Leif
Publisher UCAR/NCAR - Library
Publication Date 1993-01-01T00:00:00
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Topic Category geoscientificInformation
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Metadata Date 2023-08-18T18:07:10.396291
Metadata Record Identifier edu.ucar.opensky::technotes:156
Metadata Language eng; USA
Suggested Citation Lenschow, Donald, Mann, Jakob, Kristensen, Leif. (1993). How long is long enough when measuring fluxes and other turbulence statistics?. UCAR/NCAR - Library. Accessed 05 December 2023.

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