Boundary-Layer Meteorology

, Volume 150, Issue 2, pp 185–214 | Cite as

Modelling of the Thermodynamical Diurnal Cycle in the Lower Atmosphere: A Joint Evaluation of Four Contrasted Regimes in the Tropics Over Land

  • F. Couvreux
  • F. Guichard
  • A. Gounou
  • D. Bouniol
  • P. Peyrillé
  • M. Köhler


The diurnal cycle is an important mode of variability in the Tropics that is not correctly predicted by numerical weather prediction models. The African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses program provided for the first time a large dataset to document the diurnal cycle over West Africa. In order to assess the processes and mechanisms that are crucial for the representation of the diurnal cycle, four different regimes that characterize the varying conditions encountered over land along a surface-temperature gradient are selected. A single-column modelling framework is used in order to relate the features of the simulated diurnal cycle to physical processes in these four distinct cases. Particular attention is given to providing realistic initial and boundary conditions at the surface and in the atmosphere, enabling the use of independent data for the evaluation of the simulations. The study focuses on the simulation of the surface energy budget and low-level characteristics and analyzes the balance between cloud/surface/boundary-layer processes at the sub-diurnal time scale. The biases and drawbacks of the simulations are found to change along the temperature gradient but they always involve the representation of clouds. They also explain parts of the bias obtained with the same model when used in a less constrained configuration. Surface–atmosphere–cloud interactions arising at the sub-diurnal time scale are invoked to explain the distinct features of the low-level diurnal cycle observed over West Africa.


African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analysis campaign Diurnal cycle Single-column model Surface–atmosphere–cloud interactions 



The authors are grateful to Rémi Cambra and Alexis Fradet who worked on this subject during their internship for a month and to Jean-Marcel Piriou for providing the ARPEGE runs. We thank Florence Favot for her everyday help and her capacity of always rapidly solving computer problems. The authors would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their careful comments. The authors are grateful to the AMMA International Program and to the whole dataset that was collected during this campaign. The Niamey AMF data were obtained from the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program Archive of the Department of Energy.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Couvreux
    • 1
  • F. Guichard
    • 1
  • A. Gounou
    • 1
  • D. Bouniol
    • 1
  • P. Peyrillé
    • 1
  • M. Köhler
    • 2
  1. 1.CNRM-GAMEMétéo-France & CNRSToulouseFrance
  2. 2.Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD)offenbachGermany

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