Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 205–226

Doppler Lidar Measurements of Vertical Velocity Spectra in the Convective Planetary Boundary Layer

  • Marie Lothon
  • Donald H. Lenschow
  • Shane D. Mayor


We utilized a Doppler lidar to measure spectra of vertical velocity w from 390m above the surface to the top of the daytime convective boundary layer (CBL). The high resolution 2μm wavelength Doppler lidar developed by the NOAA Environmental Technology Laboratory was used to detect the mean radial velocity of aerosol particles. It operated continuously during the daytime in the zenith-pointing mode for several days in summer 1996 during the Lidars-in-Flat-Terrain experiment over level farmland in central Illinois, U.S.A. The temporal resolution of the lidar was about 1 s, and the range-gate resolution was about 30m. The vertical cross-sections were used to calculate spectra as a function of height with unprecedented vertical resolution throughout much of the CBL, and, in general, we find continuity of the spectral peaks throughout the depth of the CBL. We compare the observed spectra with previous formulations based on both measurements and numerical simulations, and discuss the considerable differences, both on an averaged and a case-by-case basis. We fit the observed spectra to a model that takes into account the wavelength of the spectral peak and the curvature of the spectra across the transition from low wavenumbers to the inertial subrange. The curvature generally is as large or larger than the von Kármán spectra. There is large case-to-case variability, some of which can be linked to the mean structure of the CBL, especially the mean wind and the convective instability. We also find a large case-to-case variability in our estimates of normalized turbulent kinetic energy dissipation deduced from the spectra, likely due for the most part to a varying ratio of entrainment flux to surface flux. Finally, we find a relatively larger contribution to the low wavenumber region of the spectra in cases with smaller shear across the capping inversion, and suggest that this may be due partly to gravity waves in the inversion and overlying free atmosphere.


Convective boundary layer Doppler lidar Turbulence Vertical velocity spectra 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie Lothon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Donald H. Lenschow
    • 3
  • Shane D. Mayor
    • 4
  1. 1.Centre de Recherches AtmosphériquesCampistrousFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Aérologie - CNRS UMR 5560Université de ToulouseToulouseFrance
  3. 3.National Center for Atmospheric ResearchBoulderUSA
  4. 4.California State UniversityChicoUSA

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