Determining Planetary Boundary Layer Heights with Ground-Based Lidar and Wind Profiler on Short Spatial and Temporal Scales

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Sunday, 4 January 2015
Farrah Daham, JCET/Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County, Baltimore, MD; and R. Delgado, B. B. Demoz, and S. Rabenhorst

The planetary boundary layer (PBL) height is an important meteorological parameter that affects near-surface atmospheric pollutant concentrations. It determines the volume of air into which pollutants and their precursors are emitted and is a fundamental feature for weather forecasts because of the insight it provides on the thermodynamic structure. The displacement of cooler air by warm, buoyant air can create or suppress vertical motion in the PBL, which in turn affects its diurnal height variation. The National Research Council (2009) identified determination of the PBL height as one of its highest priorities and recommended building a network of 400 lidar and radio frequency profiling sites to address the lack of national coverage to measure the PBLH throughout its diurnal cycle.

The application of covariance wavelet techniques (CWT) on lidar attenuated backscatter and radar wind profiler Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) profiles has been proven to be a useful method to determine the PBL height. One year of observations from a network of three 915-MHz boundary-layer radar wind profilers located in the state of Maryland (Beltsville, Cambridge, and Frostburg) were used to investigate the annual variability of the temporal and spatial distribution of the PBL heights and its correlation to meteorological parameters and conditions.

National Research Council (2009), Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.