20 Nov 2021
20 Nov 2021
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal AMT.

Comparisons of Planetary Boundary Layer Height from Ceilometer with ARM Radiosonde Data

Damao Zhang, Jennifer Comstock, and Victor Morris Damao Zhang et al.
  • Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA

Abstract. Ceilometer measurements of aerosol backscatter profiles have been widely used to provide continuous PBLHT estimations. To investigate the robustness of ceilometer-estimated PBLHT under different atmospheric conditions, we compared ceilometer- and radiosonde-estimated PBLHTs using long term U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) ceilometer and balloon-borne sounding data at three ARM fixed-location atmospheric observatories and from three ARM mobile observatories deployed around the world for various field campaigns, which cover from Tropics to Polar regions and over both ocean and land surfaces. Statistical comparisons of ceilometer-estimated PBLHTs from the Vaisala CL31 ceilometer data with radiosonde-estimated PBLHTs from the ARM PBLHT-SONDE Value-added Product (VAP) are performed under different atmospheric conditions including stable and unstable atmospheric boundary layer, low-level cloud-free, and cloudy conditions at these ARM observatories. Under unstable atmospheric boundary layer conditions, good comparisons are found between ceilometer- and radiosonde-estimated PBLHTs at ARM low- and mid-latitude land observatories. However, it is still challenging to obtain reliable PBLHT estimations over ocean surfaces even using radiosonde data. Under stable atmospheric boundary layer conditions, ceilometer- and radiosonde-estimated PBLHTs have weak correlations. Among different PBLHT estimations utilizing the Heffter, the Liu-Liang, and the bulk Richardson number methods in the ARM PBLHT-SONDE VAP, ceilometer-estimated PBLHTs have better comparisons with the Liu-Liang method under unstable and with the bulk Richardson number method under stable atmospheric boundary layer conditions.

Damao Zhang et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on amt-2021-292', Anonymous Referee #1, 10 Dec 2021
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Damao Zhang, 03 Jan 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on amt-2021-292', Anonymous Referee #2, 11 Dec 2021
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Damao Zhang, 03 Jan 2022

Damao Zhang et al.

Damao Zhang et al.


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Short summary
The planetary boundary layer is the lowest part of the atmosphere. Its depth (PBLHT) has a great impact on air quality, global climate, land-atmosphere interactions, and a wide range of atmospheric processes. To test the robustness of the ceilometer estimated PBLHT under different atmospheric conditions, we compared ceilometer- and radiosonde-estimated PBLHTs using multiple years of U.S. DOE ARM measurements at six ARM observatories located around the world.