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Xuelong Chen, Bojan Škerlak, Mathias W. Rotach, Juan A. Añel, Zhonbgo Su, Yaoming Ma, and Maoshan Li

Abstract

The planetary boundary layer (PBL) over the Tibetan Plateau (with a mean elevation about 4 km above sea level) reaches an unmatched height of 9515 m above sea level. The proximity of this height to the tropopause facilitates an exchange between the stratosphere and the boundary layer. However, the underlying mechanisms responsible for this unique PBL have remained uncertain. Here, the authors explore these mechanisms and their relative importance using measurements of the PBL, the associated surface fluxes, and single-column and regional numerical simulations, as well as global reanalysis data. Results indicate that the dry conditions of both ground soil and atmosphere in late winter cannot explain the special PBL alone. Rather, the results from a single-column model demonstrate the key influence of the stability of the free atmosphere upon the growth of extremely deep PBLs over the Tibetan Plateau. Simulations with the numerical weather prediction model Consortium for Small-Scale Modelling (COSMO) exhibit good correspondence with the observed mean PBL structure and realistic turbulent kinetic energy distributions throughout the PBL. Using ERA-Interim, the authors furthermore find that weak atmospheric stability and the resultant deep PBLs are associated with higher upper-level potential vorticity (PV) values, which in turn correspond to a more southerly jet position and higher wind speeds. Upper-level PV structures and jet position thus influence the PBL development over the Tibetan Plateau.

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Michael Sprenger, Georgios Fragkoulidis, Hanin Binder, Mischa Croci-Maspoli, Pascal Graf, Christian M. Grams, Peter Knippertz, Erica Madonna, Sebastian Schemm, Bojan Škerlak, and Heini Wernli

Abstract

This paper introduces a newly compiled set of feature-based climatologies identified from ERA-Interim (1979–2014). Two categories of flow features are considered: (i) Eulerian climatologies of jet streams, tropopause folds, surface fronts, cyclones and anticyclones, blocks, and potential vorticity streamers and cutoffs and (ii) Lagrangian climatologies, based on a large ensemble of air parcel trajectories, of stratosphere–troposphere exchange, warm conveyor belts, and tropical moisture exports. Monthly means of these feature climatologies are openly available at the ETH Zürich web page (http://eraiclim.ethz.ch) and are annually updated. Datasets at higher resolution can be obtained from the authors on request. These feature climatologies allow studying the frequency, variability, and trend of atmospheric phenomena and their interrelationships across temporal scales. To illustrate the potential of this dataset, boreal winter climatologies of selected features are presented and, as a first application, the very unusual Northern Hemispheric winter of 2009/10 is identified as the season when most of the considered features show maximum deviations from climatology. The second application considers dry winters in the western United States and reveals fairly localized anomalies in the eastern North Pacific of enhanced blocking and surface anticyclones and reduced cyclones.

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