Abstract

Nights with clear skies and strong radiative cooling that favor the formation of statically stable nocturnal boundary layers (NBL) are also those nights most likely to have subsidence, because of the presence of synoptic high-pressure regions. The divergence associated with subsidence laterally removes some of the chilled nocturnal boundary layer air causing the NBL to not grow as rapidly as would otherwise be expected. An equivalent interpretation is that subsidence-induced heating partially counteracts the radiative and turbulent cooling.

A new form of nocturnal integral depth scale, HT, is introduced that incorporates the heating and cooling contributions at night. This scale can be used with a variety of idealized temperature profile shapes, including slab, linear, and exponential. It is shown that observed values of subsidence for two case studies can reduce the NBL growth rate, as measured by ∂HT/∂t, by 5 to 50% and can cause corresponding errors in the estimation of accumulated cooling unless there is a proper accounting of subsidence.

Subsidence plays a very minor role close to the ground, but for the case studies presented here its heating rate increases with height and becomes of comparable magnitude to the cooling rates of turbulence and radiation within the top third of the NBL. Although no adequate measurements of horizontal advective effects were available for the case studies used here, it appears from an energy balance that advection must not be neglected because its magnitude can be as large as turbulence and radiation.

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