, Volume 116, Issue 1, pp 37-61

Observations of the Relation Between Upslope Flows and the Convective Boundary Layer in Steep Terrain

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Slope flow mechanisms are crucial for the transport of air pollutants in complex terrain. Previous observations in sloping terrain showed upslope flows filling the entire convective boundary layer (CBL) and reducing air pollution concentrations by venting air pollutants out of the CBL into the free atmosphere. During the Pacific 2001 Air Quality Field Study in the Lower Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada, we observed slope flows during weak synoptic winds, clear skies, and strong daytime solar heating. With a Doppler sodar we measured the three wind components at the foot of a slope having an average angle of 19° and a ridge height of 780 m. We operated a scanning lidar system and a tethersonde at a nearby site on the adjacent plain to measure backscatter of particulate matter, temperature, wind speed, wind direction, and specific humidity. Strong daytime upslope flows of up to 6 m s−1 through a depth of up to 500 m occurred in the lower CBL, but with often equally strong and deep return flows in the upper part of the CBL. The mass transport of upslope flow and return flow approximately balanced over a 4-h morning period, suggesting a closed slope-flow circulation within the CBL. These observations showed that air pollutants can remain trapped within a CBL rather than being vented from the CBL into the free atmosphere.