Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 135, Issue 2, pp 313–331

Frequency of Boundary-Layer-Top Fluctuations in Convective and Stable Conditions Using Laser Remote Sensing

  • Giovanni Martucci
  • Renaud Matthey
  • Valentin Mitev
  • Hans Richner


The planetary boundary-layer (PBL) height is determined with high temporal and altitude resolution from lidar backscatter profiles. Then, the frequencies of daytime thermal updrafts and downdrafts and of nighttime gravity waves are obtained applying a fast Fourier transform on the temporal fluctuation of the PBL height. The principal frequency components of each spectrum are related to the dominant processes occurring at the daytime and nighttime PBL top. Two groups of cases are selected for the study: one group combines daytime cases, measured in weak horizontal wind conditions and dominated by convection. The cases show higher updraft and downdraft frequencies for the shallow, convective boundary layer and lower frequencies for a deep PBL. For cases characterized by strong horizontal winds, the frequencies directly depend on the wind speed. The temporal variation of the PBL height is determined also in the likely presence of lee waves. For nighttime cases, the main frequency components in the spectra do not show a real correlation with the nocturnal PBL height. Altitude fluctuations of the top of the nocturnal boundary layer are observed even though the boundary layer is statically stable. These oscillations are associated with the wind shear effect and with buoyancy waves at the PBL top.


Convection Lidar Planetary boundary-layer height Thermals Top oscillation 



Planetary boundary layer


Convective boundary layer


European Aerosol Research Lidar Network


European Commission


Entrainment zone


Fast Fourier transform


Field of View


Gradient signal




Nocturnal boundary layer


Range-corrected signal


Signal-to-noise ratio


Universal Coordinated Time




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giovanni Martucci
    • 1
  • Renaud Matthey
    • 2
  • Valentin Mitev
    • 3
  • Hans Richner
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Physics & Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies, Environmental Change InstituteNational University of Ireland, GalwayGalwayIreland
  2. 2.Laboratory for Time and Frequency, Institute of PhysicsUniversity of NeuchâtelNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  3. 3.CSEM – Centre Suisse d’électronique et de MicrotechniqueNeuchâtelSwitzerland
  4. 4.Institute for Atmospheric and Climate ScienceETH Hönggerberg HPPZurichSwitzerland

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