Climatology of low-level temperature inversions at the Prague-Libuš aerological station

Abstract

Temperature inversions (TIs) have been closely studied for a variety of reasons. Here, we present an analysis of low-level TIs, based on a dataset of atmospheric soundings from the aerological station at Prague-Libuš (Czech Republic). Measurements have been carried out here since 1974, at the four main synoptic hours. First, the homogeneity of both the radiosonde data and sounding-derived time series was investigated. Since the homogeneity of the derived time series was affected by changes in the observation routine, only the period of 1992–2012 was further analysed. Second, diurnal and annual regimes of surface-based (SBTIs) and elevated (ETIs) temperature inversions were described. Maximum frequency of the SBTIs occurred at 00 UTC and in September and October. During autumn, persistent SBTIs also often occurred, which could be linked to decreased cyclonicity. Third, changes in TIs were evaluated, and the strongest trends were compared with the nearby station at Kümmersbruck (Germany). In all seasons except spring, nocturnal SBTIs decreased almost identically at both stations. Morning SBTIs decreased as well; however, the trend was considerably stronger at Prague; and it was also mirrored by an increase in ETIs. Since only a part of these trends could be explained by changes in the large-scale circulation, other factors (low tropospheric warming, suburbanisation) are hypothesized to have affected the trends.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Since the Wyoming database does not discern between level types, the Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive (Durre et al. 2006) was used to this end.

  2. 2.

    The TEMP coding further reduced the resolution to 0.2 °C, as odd (even) decimals are reserved for negative (positive) temperatures.

  3. 3.

    In some cases (even at monthly scale), the index cannot be defined since only cyclonic types occur.

  4. 4.

    The relative frequency of midday ETIs was about 10 % higher than the average of 60 % (Sep–Oct) and 73 % (Nov–Feb) if SBTIs were present in all three remaining observations. During the former period, median base height did not differ (about 1300 m AGL), during the latter one, it was significantly lower than average (735 m vs. 950 m AGL). Accepting a midday ETI based under a certain altitude may be a suitable step to improve the definition of all-day SBTIs and inversion spells based on radiosonde data.

  5. 5.

    For the testing of trend significance, two-sided confidence intervals around the sample test statistic were computed, in accord with Nicholls (2001); with regard to the small samples, Student’s t distribution was used.

  6. 6.

    The only exception was summer evenings, when SBTIs occur only rarely.

  7. 7.

    Since the absolute 00 and 06 UTC TI frequencies are very similar for all seasons, a majority of the newly formed morning ETIs should be remnants of nocturnal SBTIs. Nevertheless, a small portion of the ETIs may develop independently of SBTIs (e.g. by subsidence or advection); consequently, the actual frequencies of the morning transformation are probably slightly lower. Nonetheless, the bias should not affect the results as we aim at trends only.

  8. 8.

    The weekly weather regimes were studied, e.g. by Bäumer and Vogel (2007) for German stations.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank Mr Martin Motl from the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute for providing information about aerological observations at Prague-Libuš. Thanks are also due to two anonymous reviewers for their comments.

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Correspondence to Jan Stryhal.

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Stryhal, J., Huth, R. & Sládek, I. Climatology of low-level temperature inversions at the Prague-Libuš aerological station. Theor Appl Climatol 127, 409–420 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00704-015-1639-z

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Keywords

  • Atmospheric Boundary Layer
  • Urban Heat Island
  • Inversion Layer
  • Temperature Inversion
  • Radiosonde Data