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Vanessa Caicedo, Ruben Delgado, Ricardo Sakai, Travis Knepp, David Williams, Kevin Cavender, Barry Lefer, and James Szykman

Abstract

A unique automated planetary boundary layer (PBL) retrieval algorithm is proposed as a common cross-platform method for use with commercially available ceilometers for implementation under the redesigned U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Photochemical Assessment Monitoring Stations program. This algorithm addresses instrument signal quality and screens for precipitation and cloud layers before the implementation of the retrieval method using the Haar wavelet covariance transform. Layer attribution for the PBL height is supported with the use of continuation and time-tracking parameters, and uncertainties are calculated for individual PBL height retrievals. Commercial ceilometer retrievals are tested against radiosonde PBL height and cloud-base height during morning and late-afternoon transition times, critical to air quality model prediction and when retrieval algorithms struggle to identify PBL heights. A total of 58 radiosonde profiles were used, and retrievals for nocturnal stable layers, residual layers, and mixing layers were assessed. Overall good agreement was found for all comparisons, with one system showing limitations for the cases of nighttime surface stable layers and daytime mixing layer. It is recommended that nighttime shallow stable-layer retrievals be performed with a recommended minimum height or with additional verification. Retrievals of residual-layer heights and mixing-layer comparisons revealed overall good correlations with radiosonde heights (square of correlation coefficients r 2 ranging from 0.89 to 0.96, and bias ranging from approximately −131 to +63 m for the residual layer and r 2 from 0.88 to 0.97 and bias from −119 to +101 m for the mixing layer).

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Jaime C. Compton, Ruben Delgado, Timothy A. Berkoff, and Raymond M. Hoff

Abstract

This article explores the application of the covariance wavelet transform (CWT) to lidar and, for the first time to the authors' knowledge, wind profiler data to examine the possibility of accurate and continuous planetary boundary layer (PBL) height measurements on short temporal resolution (1- and 15-min averages, respectively). Determining the mixing in the PBL was one goal of a study of the spatial and diurnal variations of the PBL height over Maryland for July 2011, during NASA's Earth Venture mission DISCOVER-AQ. The PBL heights derived from ground-based lidars [at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC); 39.25°N, 76.70°W], a 915-MHz wind profiler, and radiosondes (at Beltsville, Maryland; 38.92°N, 77.02°W) were compared. Results from the comparison show an R 2 = 0.89, 0.92, and 0.94 correlation between the radiosonde PBL heights and two lidars and wind profiler PBL heights, respectively. Accurate determination of the PBL height by applying the CWT to lidar and wind profilers will allow for improved air quality forecasting and understanding of regional pollution dynamics.

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Julie K. Lundquist, James M. Wilczak, Ryan Ashton, Laura Bianco, W. Alan Brewer, Aditya Choukulkar, Andrew Clifton, Mithu Debnath, Ruben Delgado, Katja Friedrich, Scott Gunter, Armita Hamidi, Giacomo Valerio Iungo, Aleya Kaushik, Branko Kosović, Patrick Langan, Adam Lass, Evan Lavin, Joseph C.-Y. Lee, Katherine L. McCaffrey, Rob K. Newsom, David C. Noone, Steven P. Oncley, Paul T. Quelet, Scott P. Sandberg, John L. Schroeder, William J. Shaw, Lynn Sparling, Clara St. Martin, Alexandra St. Pe, Edward Strobach, Ken Tay, Brian J. Vanderwende, Ann Weickmann, Daniel Wolfe, and Rochelle Worsnop

Abstract

To assess current capabilities for measuring flow within the atmospheric boundary layer, including within wind farms, the U.S. Department of Energy sponsored the eXperimental Planetary boundary layer Instrumentation Assessment (XPIA) campaign at the Boulder Atmospheric Observatory (BAO) in spring 2015. Herein, we summarize the XPIA field experiment, highlight novel measurement approaches, and quantify uncertainties associated with these measurement methods. Line-of-sight velocities measured by scanning lidars and radars exhibit close agreement with tower measurements, despite differences in measurement volumes. Virtual towers of wind measurements, from multiple lidars or radars, also agree well with tower and profiling lidar measurements. Estimates of winds over volumes from scanning lidars and radars are in close agreement, enabling the assessment of spatial variability. Strengths of the radar systems used here include high scan rates, large domain coverage, and availability during most precipitation events, but they struggle at times to provide data during periods with limited atmospheric scatterers. In contrast, for the deployment geometry tested here, the lidars have slower scan rates and less range but provide more data during nonprecipitating atmospheric conditions. Microwave radiometers provide temperature profiles with approximately the same uncertainty as radio acoustic sounding systems (RASS). Using a motion platform, we assess motion-compensation algorithms for lidars to be mounted on offshore platforms. Finally, we highlight cases for validation of mesoscale or large-eddy simulations, providing information on accessing the archived dataset. We conclude that modern remote sensing systems provide a generational improvement in observational capabilities, enabling the resolution of finescale processes critical to understanding inhomogeneous boundary layer flows.

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