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A Climatology of Unstable Layers in the Troposphere and Lower Stratosphere: Some Early Results

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  • 1 Stony Brook University, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York
  • 2 University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  • 3 GATS, Inc., Boulder, Colorado
  • 4 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida
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Abstract

The 1-s-resolution U.S. radiosonde data are analyzed for unstable layers, where the potential temperature decreases with increasing altitude, in the troposphere and lower stratosphere (LS). Care is taken to exclude spurious unstable layers arising from noise in the soundings and also to allow for the destabilizing influence of water vapor in saturated layers. Riverton, Wyoming, and Greensboro, North Carolina, in the extratropics, are analyzed in detail, where it is found that the annual and diurnal variations are largest, and the interannual variations are smallest in the LS. More unstable layer occurrences in the LS at Riverton are found at 0000 UTC, while at Greensboro, more unstable layer occurrences in the LS are at 1200 UTC, consistent with a geographical pattern where greater unstable layer occurrences in the LS are at 0000 UTC in the western United States, while greater unstable layer occurrences are at 1200 UTC in the eastern United States. The picture at Koror, Palau, in the tropics is different in that the diurnal and interannual variations in unstable layer occurrences in the LS are largest, with much smaller annual variations. At Koror, more frequent unstable layer occurrences in the LS occur at 0000 UTC. Also, a “notch” in the frequencies of occurrence of thin unstable layers at about 12 km is observed at Koror, with large frequencies of occurrence of thick layers at that altitude. Histograms are produced for the two midlatitude stations and one tropical station analyzed. The log–log slopes for troposphere histograms are in reasonable agreement with earlier results, but the LS histograms show a steeper log–log slope, consistent with more thin unstable layers and fewer thick unstable layers there. Some radiosonde stations are excluded from this analysis since a marked change in unstable layer occurrences was identified when a change in radiosonde instrumentation occurred.

Geller: Retired

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Marvin A. Geller, marvin.geller@sunysb.edu

Abstract

The 1-s-resolution U.S. radiosonde data are analyzed for unstable layers, where the potential temperature decreases with increasing altitude, in the troposphere and lower stratosphere (LS). Care is taken to exclude spurious unstable layers arising from noise in the soundings and also to allow for the destabilizing influence of water vapor in saturated layers. Riverton, Wyoming, and Greensboro, North Carolina, in the extratropics, are analyzed in detail, where it is found that the annual and diurnal variations are largest, and the interannual variations are smallest in the LS. More unstable layer occurrences in the LS at Riverton are found at 0000 UTC, while at Greensboro, more unstable layer occurrences in the LS are at 1200 UTC, consistent with a geographical pattern where greater unstable layer occurrences in the LS are at 0000 UTC in the western United States, while greater unstable layer occurrences are at 1200 UTC in the eastern United States. The picture at Koror, Palau, in the tropics is different in that the diurnal and interannual variations in unstable layer occurrences in the LS are largest, with much smaller annual variations. At Koror, more frequent unstable layer occurrences in the LS occur at 0000 UTC. Also, a “notch” in the frequencies of occurrence of thin unstable layers at about 12 km is observed at Koror, with large frequencies of occurrence of thick layers at that altitude. Histograms are produced for the two midlatitude stations and one tropical station analyzed. The log–log slopes for troposphere histograms are in reasonable agreement with earlier results, but the LS histograms show a steeper log–log slope, consistent with more thin unstable layers and fewer thick unstable layers there. Some radiosonde stations are excluded from this analysis since a marked change in unstable layer occurrences was identified when a change in radiosonde instrumentation occurred.

Geller: Retired

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Marvin A. Geller, marvin.geller@sunysb.edu
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