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Lidar Observations of Vertically Organized Convection in the Planetary Boundary Layer over the Ocean

S. H. MelfiGoddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

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J. D. SpinhirneGoddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

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S-H. ChouGoddard Laboratory for Atmospheric Sciences, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

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S. P. PalmScience Systems and Applications, Inc., NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771

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Abstract

Observations of a convective planetary boundary layer (PBL) were made with an airborne, downward-looking lidar system over the Atlantic Ocean during a cold air outbreak. The lidar data revealed well-organized, regularly spaced cellular convection with dominant spacial scales between two and four times the height of the boundary layer. It is demonstrated that the lidar can accurately measure the structure of the PBL with high vertical and horizontal resolution. Parameters important for PBL modeling such as entrainment zone thickness, entrainment rate, PBL height and relative heat flux can be inferred from the lidar data. It is suggested that wind shear at the PBL top may influence both entrainment and convective cell size.

Abstract

Observations of a convective planetary boundary layer (PBL) were made with an airborne, downward-looking lidar system over the Atlantic Ocean during a cold air outbreak. The lidar data revealed well-organized, regularly spaced cellular convection with dominant spacial scales between two and four times the height of the boundary layer. It is demonstrated that the lidar can accurately measure the structure of the PBL with high vertical and horizontal resolution. Parameters important for PBL modeling such as entrainment zone thickness, entrainment rate, PBL height and relative heat flux can be inferred from the lidar data. It is suggested that wind shear at the PBL top may influence both entrainment and convective cell size.

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