Characterization of the Marine Boundary Layer and the Trade-Wind Inversion over the Sub-tropical North Atlantic
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- Carrillo, J., Guerra, J.C., Cuevas, E. et al. Boundary-Layer Meteorol (2016) 158: 311. doi:10.1007/s10546-015-0081-1
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The stability of the lower troposphere along the east side of the sub-tropical North Atlantic is analyzed and characterized using upper air meteorological long-term records at the Canary Islands (Tenerife), Madeira (Madeira) and Azores (Terceira) archipelagos. The most remarkable characteristic is the strong stratification observed in the lower troposphere, with a strengthening of stability centred at levels near 900 and 800 hPa in a significant percentage of soundings (ranging from 17 % in Azores to 33 % in Güimar, Canary Islands). We show that this double structure is associated with the top of the marine boundary layer (MBL) and the trade-wind inversion (TWI) respectively. The top of the MBL coincides with the base of the first temperature inversion (\(\approx \)900 hPa) where a sharp change in water vapour mixing ratio is observed. A second temperature inversion is found near 800 hPa, which is characterized by a large directional wind shear just above the inversion layer, tied to the TWI. We find that seasonal and latitudinal variations of the height and strength of both temperature inversions are driven by large-scale subsiding air from the upper troposphere associated with the descent branch of the Hadley cell. Increased general subsidence in summertime enhances stability in the lower troposphere, more markedly in the southern stations, where the inversion-layer heights are found at lower levels enhancing the main features of these two temperature inversions. A simple conceptual model that explains the lower tropospheric inversion enhancement by subsidence is proposed.