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Effect of Clouds on the Diurnal Evolution of the Atmospheric Boundary-Layer Height Over a Tropical Coastal Station


The growth of the daytime convective atmospheric boundary layer, which plays a pivotal role in the vertical mixing and dispersal of water vapour and pollutants, is modulated by cloud radiative effects. Assessment of this cloud effect is sparse in any geographical region and non-existent over tropical coastal regions. We investigate the effect of clouds on the diurnal evolution of boundary-layer height over tropical coastal location Thumba (8.5°N, 77°E) during onshore and offshore flow using multi-year (2010–2016) microwave radiometer profiler observations. The boundary-layer height during both cloudy and clear-sky periods increases rapidly from 0800 LT (local time = UTC + 5.1 h) to attain a daytime peak around noon (400–1500 m). The seasonal mean noontime boundary layer height during cloudy periods is lower than that during clear-sky periods by > 900 m (> 400 m) when offshore (onshore) flow prevails during winter and pre-monsoon seasons. The forenoon growth rate of the boundary-layer height during clear-sky offshore flow is rapid (> 380 m h−1) compared to that during cloudy offshore (160 m h−1), clear-sky onshore (160–250 m h−1), and cloudy onshore (> 100 m h−1) flow. Effects of shortwave cloud radiative forcing and soil temperature on the noontime boundary-layer height and their interdependencies are presented. These observations reveal the contrasting and significant effect of clouds on the growth of the daytime boundary layer during onshore and offshore flow, and the coupled effects of cloud radiative forcing and soil temperature on boundary-layer height over tropical coastal regions, which provide essential constraints for evaluating model simulations.

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One of the authors, Edwin V. Davis, is supported by ISRO Research Fellowship by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). The authors thank Dr. C. Suresh Raju, SPL, for providing microwave radiometer profiler (MRP) data during 2011–2016 and Dr. NVP Kiran Kumar, SPL, for providing wind data. Except for MRP, the data used here are part of the IGBP-NOBLE project. We thank the anonymous reviewers for their very helpful suggestions for improving the ms and addressing some of the important missing elements.

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Davis, E.V., Rajeev, K. & Mishra, M.K. Effect of Clouds on the Diurnal Evolution of the Atmospheric Boundary-Layer Height Over a Tropical Coastal Station. Boundary-Layer Meteorol (2020).

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  • Boundary-layer height
  • Cloud radiative effects
  • Diurnal variation
  • Microwave radiometer
  • Temporal coherence test