Observations of Entrainment in Eastern Pacific Marine Stratocumulus Using Three Conserved Scalars

Ian Faloona National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Donald H. Lenschow National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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Teresa Campos National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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B. Stevens University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

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M. van Zanten University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California

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B. Blomquist Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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D. Thornton Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Alan Bandy Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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Hermann Gerber Gerber Scientific, Reston, Virginia

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Abstract

Fast measurements of three scalars, ozone, dimethyl sulfide (DMS), and total water, are used to investigate the entrainment process in the stratocumulus-topped boundary layer (STBL) observed over the eastern subtropical Pacific during the second Dynamics and Chemistry of Marine Stratocumulus Experiment (DYCOMS-II). Direct measurement of the flux profiles by eddy covariance is used to estimate the entrainment velocity, the average rate at which the boundary layer grows diabatically via incorporation of overlying free tropospheric air. The entrainment velocities observed over the course of the mission, which took place during July 2001, ranged from 0.12 to 0.72 cm s−1, and appear to outpace the estimated large-scale subsidence as the boundary layer advects over warmer sea surface temperatures. Observed entrainment velocities display only a weak correlation with the buoyancy Richardson number defined at the inversion, which suggests that processes other than inversion strength, such as wind shear, might play a larger role in driving entrainment in the STBL than previously recognized.

This study is the first to use DMS as an entrainment tracer because the high-rate mass spectrometric technique has only recently been developed. The biogenic sulfur compound shows great promise for such investigations in marine environments because the free tropospheric concentrations are virtually nonexistent, and it therefore serves as an unambiguous marker of boundary layer air. As such, individual mixing events can be analyzed to determine the mixing fraction of boundary layer and free tropospheric air, and in several such cases buoyancy reversal was observed despite the absence of large-scale dissipation of the cloud field as postulated by cloud-top entrainment instability. Moreover, the redundancy attained in using three separate scalars allows for an investigation of the average height scales above the inversion from where air is blended into the STBL, and this tends to be less than 80 m above the mean inversion height, implying that the entrainment process occurs on very small scales.

* Current affiliation: Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, Davis, California

+ NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Dr. Ian Faloona, Dept. of Land, Air, and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616. Email: icfaloona@ucdavis.edu

Abstract

Fast measurements of three scalars, ozone, dimethyl sulfide (DMS), and total water, are used to investigate the entrainment process in the stratocumulus-topped boundary layer (STBL) observed over the eastern subtropical Pacific during the second Dynamics and Chemistry of Marine Stratocumulus Experiment (DYCOMS-II). Direct measurement of the flux profiles by eddy covariance is used to estimate the entrainment velocity, the average rate at which the boundary layer grows diabatically via incorporation of overlying free tropospheric air. The entrainment velocities observed over the course of the mission, which took place during July 2001, ranged from 0.12 to 0.72 cm s−1, and appear to outpace the estimated large-scale subsidence as the boundary layer advects over warmer sea surface temperatures. Observed entrainment velocities display only a weak correlation with the buoyancy Richardson number defined at the inversion, which suggests that processes other than inversion strength, such as wind shear, might play a larger role in driving entrainment in the STBL than previously recognized.

This study is the first to use DMS as an entrainment tracer because the high-rate mass spectrometric technique has only recently been developed. The biogenic sulfur compound shows great promise for such investigations in marine environments because the free tropospheric concentrations are virtually nonexistent, and it therefore serves as an unambiguous marker of boundary layer air. As such, individual mixing events can be analyzed to determine the mixing fraction of boundary layer and free tropospheric air, and in several such cases buoyancy reversal was observed despite the absence of large-scale dissipation of the cloud field as postulated by cloud-top entrainment instability. Moreover, the redundancy attained in using three separate scalars allows for an investigation of the average height scales above the inversion from where air is blended into the STBL, and this tends to be less than 80 m above the mean inversion height, implying that the entrainment process occurs on very small scales.

* Current affiliation: Department of Land, Air, and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, Davis, California

+ NCAR is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Dr. Ian Faloona, Dept. of Land, Air, and Water Resources, University of California, Davis, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA 95616. Email: icfaloona@ucdavis.edu

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