On the role of the planetary boundary layer depth in the climate system
- 1G.C. Rieber Climate Institute of the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center, Thormohlensgt. 47, 5006, Bergen, Norway
- 2Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research, Bergen, Norway
- 3Division of Meteorological Research, Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
- 4Division of Atmospheric Sciences and Geophysics, Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Finland
Abstract. The planetary boundary layer (PBL) is a part of the Earth's atmosphere where turbulent fluxes dominate vertical mixing and constitute an important part of the energy balance. The PBL depth, h, is recognized as an important parameter, which controls some features of the Earth's climate and the atmospheric chemical composition. It is also known that h varies by two orders of magnitude on diurnal and seasonal time scales. This brief note highlights effects of this variability on the atmospheric near-surface climate and chemical composition. We interpret heat capacity parameter of a Budyko-type energy balance model in terms of quasi-equilibrium h. The analysis shows that it is the shallowest, stably-stratified PBL with the smallest h that should be of particular concern for climate modelling. The reciprocal dependence between the PBL depth and temperature (concentrations) is discussed. In particular, the analysis suggests that the climate characteristics during stably stratified PBL episodes should be significantly more sensitive to perturbations of the Earth's energy balance as well as emission rates. On this platform, h from ERA-40 reanalysis data, the CHAMP satellite product and the DATABASE64 data were compared. DATABASE64 was used to assess the Troen-Mahrt method to determine h through available meteorological profile observations. As it has been found before, the shallow PBL requires better parameterization and better retrieval algorithms. The study demonstrated that ERA-40 and CHAMP data are biased toward deeper h in the shallow polar PBL. This, coupled with the scarcity of in-situ observations might mislead the attribution of the origins of the Arctic climate change mechanisms.