Estimating fog-top height through near-surface micrometeorological measurements

Carlos Román-Cascón*, Carlos Yagüe, Gert Jan Steeneveld, Mariano Sastre, Jon Ander Arrillaga, Gregorio Maqueda

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Fog-top height (fog thickness) is very useful information for aircraft maneuvers, data assimilation/validation of Numerical Weather Prediction models or nowcasting of fog dissipation. This variable is usually difficult to determine, since the fog-layer top cannot be observed from the surface. In some cases, satellite data, ground remote-sensing instruments or atmospheric soundings are used to provide approximations of fog-top height. These instruments are expensive and their data not always available. In this work, two different methods for the estimation of fog-top height from field measurements are evaluated from the statistical analysis of several radiation-fog events at two research facilities. Firstly, surface friction velocity and buoyancy flux are here presented as potential indicators of fog thickness, since a linear correlation between fog thickness and surface turbulence is found at both sites. An operational application of this method can provide a continuous estimation of fog-top height with the deployment of a unique sonic anemometer at surface. Secondly, the fog-top height estimation based on the turbulent homogenisation within well-mixed fog (an adiabatic temperature profile) is evaluated. The latter method provides a high percentage of correctly-estimated fog-top heights for well-mixed radiation fog, considering the temperature difference between different levels of the fog. However, it is not valid for shallow fog (~ less than 50. m depth), since in this case, the weaker turbulence within the fog is not able to erode the surface-based temperature inversion and to homogenise the fog layer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-86
JournalAtmospheric Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2016


  • Fog-top
  • Radiation fog
  • Stability
  • Turbulence

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