Characteristics of the summer atmospheric boundary layer height over the Tibetan Plateau and influential factors

Che, Junhui; Zhao, Ping

The important roles of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) in climate, weather, and air quality have long been recognized, but little is known about the TP ABL climatological features and their west–east discrepancies due to the scarce data in the western TP. Based on observational datasets of intensive sounding, surface sensible heat flux, solar radiation, and soil moisture from the Third Tibetan Plateau Atmospheric Scientific Experiment (TIPEX-III) and the routine meteorological-operational-sounding and ground-based cloud cover datasets in the Tibetan Plateau for the period 2013–2015, we investigate the west–east differences in summer ABL features over the TP and the associated influential factors for the first time. It is found that the heights of both the convective boundary layer (CBL) and the neutral boundary layer (NBL) exhibit a diurnal variation and a west–east difference in the TP, while these features are not remarkable for the stable boundary layer (SBL). Moreover, the ABL shows significant discrepancies in the amplitude of the diurnal variation and the persistent time of the development between the eastern and western TP. In the early morning (08:00 BJT, Beijing time), the ABL height distribution is narrow, with a mean height below 450 inline-formulam a.g.l. (above ground level) and a small west–east difference. The SBL observed at this moment accounts for 85 % of the total TP ABL. There is a wide distribution in the ABL height up to 4000 inline-formulam a.g.l. and a large west–east difference for the total ABL height at noon (14:00 BJT), with a mean height above 2000 inline-formulam a.g.l. in the western TP and around 1500 inline-formulam a.g.l. in the eastern TP. The CBL accounts for 77 % of the total TP ABL at this moment, with more than 50 % of the CBL above 1900 inline-formulam a.g.l. In the late afternoon (20:00 BJT), the CBL and SBL dominate the western and eastern TP, respectively, which results in a larger west–east difference of 1054.2 inline-formulam between the western and eastern TP. The high ABL height in a cold environment over the western TP (relative to the plain areas) is similar to that in some extreme hot and arid areas such as Dunhuang and Taklimakan deserts. In general, for the western (eastern) TP, there is low (high) total cloud coverage, with large (small) solar radiation at the surface and dry (wet) soil. These features lead to high (low) sensible heat flux and thus promote (inhibit) the local ABL development. This study provides new insights for west–east structures of the summer ABL height, occurrence frequency, and diurnal amplitude over the TP region and the associated reasons.

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Che, Junhui / Zhao, Ping: Characteristics of the summer atmospheric boundary layer height over the Tibetan Plateau and influential factors. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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Rechteinhaber: Junhui Che

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