Evaluation of retrieval methods for planetary boundary layer height based on radiosonde data

Li, Hui; Liu, Boming; Ma, Xin; Jin, Shikuan; Ma, Yingying; Zhao, Yuefeng; Gong, Wei

Radiosonde (RS) is widely used to detect the vertical structures of the planetary boundary layer (PBL), and numerous methods have been proposed for retrieving PBL height (PBLH) from RS data. However, an algorithm that is suitable under all atmospheric conditions does not exist. This study evaluates the performance of four common PBLH algorithms under different thermodynamic stability conditions based on RS data collected from nine sites in January–December 2019. The four RS algorithms are the potential temperature gradient method (GMinline-formulaθ), relative humidity (RH) gradient method (GMinline-formulaRH), parcel method (PM) and Richardson number method (RM). Atmospheric conditions are divided into convective boundary layer (CBL), neutral boundary layer (NBL) and stable boundary layer (SBL) on the basis of the potential temperature profile. Results indicate that SBL is dominant at nighttime, whilst CBL dominates at daytime. Under all and SBL classifications, PBLH retrieved by RM is typically higher than those retrieved using the other methods. On the contrary, the PBLH result retrieved by PM is the lowest. Under CBL and NBL classifications, PBLH retrieved by PM is the highest. PBLH retrieved by GMinline-formulaθ and GMinline-formulaRH is relatively low under all classifications. Moreover, the uncertainty analysis shows that the consistency of PBLH retrieved by different algorithms is more than 80 % under CBL and NBL classifications. By contrast, the consistency of PBLH is less than 60 % under SBL classification. The average profiles and standard deviations of wind speed and potential temperature under consistent and inconsistent conditions are also investigated. The results indicate that consistent cases are typically accompanied by evident atmospheric stratification, such as a large gradient in the potential temperature profile or a low-level jet in the wind speed profile. These results indicate that the reliability of the PBLH results retrieved from RS data is affected by the structure of the boundary layer. Overall, GMinline-formulaθ and RM are appropriate for CBL condition. GMinline-formulaθ and PM are recommended for NBL condition. GMinline-formulaθ and GMinline-formulaRH are robust for SBL condition. This comprehensive comparison provides a reference for selecting the appropriate algorithm when retrieving PBLH from RS data.

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Li, Hui / Liu, Boming / Ma, Xin / et al: Evaluation of retrieval methods for planetary boundary layer height based on radiosonde data. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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