Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
09 Mar 2011
 | 09 Mar 2011

Boundary layer dynamics over London, UK, as observed using Doppler lidar during REPARTEE-II

J. F. Barlow, T. M. Dunbar, E. G. Nemitz, C. R. Wood, M. W. Gallagher, F. Davies, E. O'Connor, and R. M. Harrison

Abstract. Urban boundary layers (UBLs) can be highly complex due to the heterogeneous roughness and heating of the surface, particularly at night. Due to a general lack of observations, it is not clear whether canonical models of boundary layer mixing are appropriate in modelling air quality in urban areas. This paper reports Doppler lidar observations of turbulence profiles in the centre of London, UK, as part of the second REPARTEE campaign in autumn 2007. Lidar-measured standard deviation of vertical velocity averaged over 30 min intervals generally compared well with in situ sonic anemometer measurements at 190 m on the BT telecommunications Tower. During calm, nocturnal periods, the lidar underestimated turbulent mixing due mainly to limited sampling rate. Mixing height derived from the turbulence, and aerosol layer height from the backscatter profiles, showed similar diurnal cycles ranging from c. 300 to 800 m, increasing to c. 200 to 850 m under clear skies. The aerosol layer height was sometimes significantly different to the mixing height, particularly at night under clear skies. For convective and neutral cases, the scaled turbulence profiles resembled canonical results; this was less clear for the stable case. Lidar observations clearly showed enhanced mixing beneath stratocumulus clouds reaching down on occasion to approximately half daytime boundary layer depth. On one occasion the nocturnal turbulent structure was consistent with a nocturnal jet, suggesting a stable layer. Given the general agreement between observations and canonical turbulence profiles, mixing timescales were calculated for passive scalars released at street level to reach the BT Tower using existing models of turbulent mixing. It was estimated to take c. 10 min to diffuse up to 190 m, rising to between 20 and 50 min at night, depending on stability. Determination of mixing timescales is important when comparing to physico-chemical processes acting on pollutant species measured simultaneously at both the ground and at the BT Tower during the campaign. From the 3 week autumnal data-set there is evidence for occasional stable layers in central London, effectively decoupling surface emissions from air aloft.

Final-revised paper