Application of Lidar Data to Assist Airmass Discrimination at the Whistler Mountaintop Observatory

John P. Gallagher Department of Geography, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Ian G. McKendry Department of Geography, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Paul W. Cottle Department of Geography, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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Anne Marie Macdonald Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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W. Richard Leaitch Science and Technology Branch, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Kevin Strawbridge Centre for Atmospheric Research Experiments, Environment Canada, Egbert, Ontario, Canada

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Abstract

A ground-based lidar system that has been deployed in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, since the spring of 2010 provides a means of evaluating vertical aerosol structure in a mountainous environment. This information is used to help to determine when an air chemistry observatory atop Whistler Mountain (2182 m MSL) is within the free troposphere or is influenced by the valley-based planetary boundary layer (PBL). Three case studies are presented in which 1-day time series images of backscatter data from the lidar are analyzed along with concurrent meteorological and air-chemistry datasets from the mountaintop site. The cases were selected to illustrate different scenarios of diurnal PBL evolution that are expected to be common during their respective seasons. The lidar images corroborate assumptions about PBL influence as derived from analysis of diurnal trends in water vapor, condensation nuclei, and ozone. Use of all of these datasets together bolsters efforts to determine which atmospheric layer the site best represents, which is important when evaluating the provenance of air samples.

Corresponding author address: John Gallagher, Dept. of Geography, The University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada. E-mail: john.gallagher@geog.ubc.ca

Abstract

A ground-based lidar system that has been deployed in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, since the spring of 2010 provides a means of evaluating vertical aerosol structure in a mountainous environment. This information is used to help to determine when an air chemistry observatory atop Whistler Mountain (2182 m MSL) is within the free troposphere or is influenced by the valley-based planetary boundary layer (PBL). Three case studies are presented in which 1-day time series images of backscatter data from the lidar are analyzed along with concurrent meteorological and air-chemistry datasets from the mountaintop site. The cases were selected to illustrate different scenarios of diurnal PBL evolution that are expected to be common during their respective seasons. The lidar images corroborate assumptions about PBL influence as derived from analysis of diurnal trends in water vapor, condensation nuclei, and ozone. Use of all of these datasets together bolsters efforts to determine which atmospheric layer the site best represents, which is important when evaluating the provenance of air samples.

Corresponding author address: John Gallagher, Dept. of Geography, The University of British Columbia, 1984 West Mall, Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2, Canada. E-mail: john.gallagher@geog.ubc.ca
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