The BLLAST field experiment: Boundary-Layer Late Afternoon and Sunset Turbulence

M. Lothon, F. Lohou, D. Pino, J. Vilà-Guerau De Arellano, O.K. Hartogensis, A. van de Boer, O. de Coster, A.F. Moene, G.J. Steeneveld

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Abstract

Due to the major role of the sun in heating the earth's surface, the atmospheric planetary boundary layer over land is inherently marked by a diurnal cycle. The afternoon transition, the period of the day that connects the daytime dry convective boundary layer to the night-time stable boundary layer, still has a number of unanswered scientific questions. This phase of the diurnal cycle is challenging from both modelling and observational perspectives: it is transitory, most of the forcings are small or null and the turbulence regime changes from fully convective, close to homogeneous and isotropic, toward a more heterogeneous and intermittent state. These issues motivated the BLLAST (Boundary-Layer Late Afternoon and Sunset Turbulence) field campaign that was conducted from 14 June to 8 July 2011 in southern France, in an area of complex and heterogeneous terrain. A wide range of instrumented platforms including full-size aircraft, remotely piloted aircraft systems, remote-sensing instruments, radiosoundings, tethered balloons, surface flux stations and various meteorological towers were deployed over different surface types. The boundary layer, from the earth's surface to the free troposphere, was probed during the entire day, with a focus and intense observation periods that were conducted from midday until sunset. The BLLAST field campaign also provided an opportunity to test innovative measurement systems, such as new miniaturized sensors, and a new technique for frequent radiosoundings of the low troposphere. Twelve fair weather days displaying various meteorological conditions were extensively documented during the field experiment. The boundary-layer growth varied from one day to another depending on many contributions including stability, advection, subsidence, the state of the previous day's residual layer, as well as local, meso- or synoptic scale conditions. Ground-based measurements combined with tethered-balloon and airborne observations captured the turbulence decay from the surface throughout the whole boundary layer and documented the evolution of the turbulence characteristic length scales during the transition period. Closely integrated with the field experiment, numerical studies are now underway with a complete hierarchy of models to support the data interpretation and improve the model representations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10931-10960
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume14
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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Keywords

  • large-eddy-simulation
  • observed evening transition
  • doppler spectral width
  • low-level jets
  • convective turbulence
  • intermittent turbulence
  • surface-layer
  • kinetic-energy
  • drainage flow
  • length scales

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