Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 149, Issue 3, pp 425–453 | Cite as

Low Tropospheric Layers Over Reunion Island in Lidar-Derived Observations and a High-Resolution Model

  • D. Lesouëf
  • F. Gheusi
  • P. Chazette
  • R. Delmas
  • J. Sanak


In November and December 2008, ground-based mobile lidar (GBML) measurements were carried out on Reunion Island (Indian Ocean, \(21^{\circ }07^{\prime }\hbox {S}, 55^{\circ }32^{\prime }\hbox {E}\), 700 km east of Madagascar) with an ultraviolet (355 nm) aerosol-backscatter lidar. Complex substructures were identified within the planetary boundary layer (PBL). A 500-m-resolution non-hydrostatic model was used to simulate the dynamics of the lower troposphere for two observation periods characteristic of the two main weather regimes in this season: the “trade-wind” regime and the “breeze” regime. The model captured the observed structures with a high degree of realism compared to the GBML. A complete diurnal cycle of the PBL along the south coast of the island during a “trade-wind” day was observed and simulated. The PBL depth was found to be anti-correlated with the wind speed. The model showed that the PBL along the coast behaved as a shallow-water flow in hydraulic theory. As the flow accelerated in response to lateral constriction, conversion of potential into kinetic energy forced the PBL top downwards. This favoured rapid transport of concentrated surface emissions within the contracted surface layer, with a possible impact on air quality. GBML observations were also conducted during the early morning of a “breeze” day on the western slope of the Maïdo mountain (2,200 m), at the top of which a new atmospheric observatory has been in operation since 2012. Both model and GBML revealed two superposed layers. The upper layer, higher than approximately 1,600 m above mean sea level, corresponded to free tropospheric air driven by the trade winds. Below, westerly counterflow advection of humid marine air occurred as a result of wake vortices in the lee of the island. The model suggests that free-tropospheric conditions prevail at the observatory from the second half of the night to mid-morning.


Air quality High-resolution modelling Island meteorology Mobile aerosol-backscatter lidar Tropical marine boundary layer 



This work was granted access to the HPC resources of IDRIS under the allocation 2009-[96069] made by GENCI (Grand Equipement National du Calcul Intensif). The Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA) is also acknowledged for its support to the ECLAIR experiment. The authors are grateful to Juan Escobar of the University of Toulouse for precious help related to the MESO-NH model. Martial Barblu, Jean-Luc Baray, Yann Courcoux, Valentin Duflot, Emmanuel Duriez, Hélène Ferré, Franck Gabarrot, Christian Guadagno, Patrick Hernandez, Joyce Poinen, and Stéphane Richard are acknowledged for their contribution to the ECLAIR field campaign. Weather data from ground stations were used courtesy of Météo-France.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Lesouëf
    • 1
  • F. Gheusi
    • 2
  • P. Chazette
    • 3
  • R. Delmas
    • 1
  • J. Sanak
    • 3
  1. 1.Laboratoire de l’Atmosphère et des Cyclones, CNRS/INSU UMR8105Université de la RéunionLa RéunionFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’Aérologie, CNRS/INSU UMR5560Université Toulouse IIIToulouseFrance
  3. 3.Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’EnvironnementCEA-CNRS-Université Versailles Saint-Quentin, CEA SaclayGif-sur-YvetteFrance

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