Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 120, Issue 1, pp 181–200

Determination of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer Height from Radiosonde and Lidar Backscatter


DOI: 10.1007/s10546-005-9035-3

Cite this article as:
Hennemuth, B. & Lammert, A. Boundary-Layer Meteorol (2006) 120: 181. doi:10.1007/s10546-005-9035-3


The height of the atmospheric boundary layer is derived with the help of two different measuring systems and methods. From radiosoundings the boundary layer height is determined by the parcel method and by temperature and humidity gradients. From lidar backscatter measurements a combination of the averaging variance method and the high-resolution gradient method is used to determine boundary layer heights. In this paper lidar-derived boundary layer heights on a 10 min basis are presented. Datasets from four experiments – two over land and two over the sea – are used to compare boundary layer heights from both methods. Only the daytime boundary layer is investigated because the height of the nighttime stable boundary layer is below the range of the lidar. In many situations the boundary layer heights from both systems coincide within ±200 m. This corresponds to the standard deviation of lidar-derived 10-min values within a 1-h interval and is due to the time and space variability of the boundary layer height. Deviations appear for certain situations and depend on which radiosonde method is applied. The parcel method fails over land surfaces in the afternoon when the boundary layer stabilizes and over the ocean when the boundary layer is slightly stable. An automatic radiosonde gradient method sometimes fails when multiple layers are present, e.g. a residual layer above the growing convective boundary layer. The lidar method has the advantage of continuous tracing and thus avoids confusion with elevated layers. On the other hand, it mostly fails in situations with boundary layer clouds


Atmospheric boundary layer heightConvective boundary layerResidual layerLidarRadiosounding

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institute for MeteorologyHamburgGermany