Investigation of the spatial variability of the convective boundary layer heights over an isolated mountain: Cases from the MATERHORN-2012 experiment

Sandip Pal, S. F.J. de Wekker, G. D. Emmitt

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10 Scopus citations


Spatiotemporal variability in the convective boundary layer height zi over complex terrain is governed by numerous factors such as land surface processes, topography, and synoptic conditions. Observational datasets to evaluate weather forecast models that simulate this variability are sparse. This study aims to investigate the zi spatial variability (along a total leg length of 1800 km) around and over a steep isolated mountain (Granite Mountain) of horizontal and vertical dimensions of 8 and 0.9 km, respectively. An airborne Doppler lidar was deployed on seven flights during the Mountain Terrain Atmospheric Modeling and Observations (MATERHORN) campaign conducted at Dugway Proving Ground (Utah) from 25 September to 24 October 2012. During the afternoon, an east-west zi gradient over the region with zi that was approximately 200 m higher on the eastern side than on the western side of Granite Mountain was observed. This gradient illustrates the impact of two different land surface properties on zi spatial variability, with a sparsely vegetated desert steppe region on the east and a dry, bare lake-bed desert with high subsurface soil moisture to the west of Granite Mountain. Additionally, the zi spatial variability was partly attributed to the impact of Granite Mountain on the downwind zi. Differences in zi were also observed by the radiosonde measurements in the afternoon but not in the morning as the zi variability in morning were modulated by the topography. The high-resolution lidar-derived zi measurements were used to estimate the entrainment zone thickness in the afternoon, with estimates ranging from 100 to 250 m.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1927-1952
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Atm/ocean structure/ phenomena
  • Atmosphere-land interaction
  • Boundary layer
  • Circulation/ dynamics
  • Dynamics
  • Lidars/lidar observations
  • Observational techniques and algorithms
  • Orographic effects
  • Physical meteorology and climatology
  • Surface observations


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