Articles | Volume 16, issue 20
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 13309–13319, 2016

Special issue: Regional transport and transformation of air pollution in...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 13309–13319, 2016

Research article 28 Oct 2016

Research article | 28 Oct 2016

The climatology of planetary boundary layer height in China derived from radiosonde and reanalysis data

Jianping Guo1,*, Yucong Miao1,*, Yong Zhang2, Huan Liu1, Zhanqing Li3,4, Wanchun Zhang1, Jing He1, Mengyun Lou1, Yan Yan1, Lingen Bian1, and Panmao Zhai1 Jianping Guo et al.
  • 1State Key Laboratory of Severe Weather & Key Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry of CMA, Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences, 100081 Beijing, China
  • 2Meteorological Observation Centre, China Meteorological Administration, 100081 Beijing, China
  • 3State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource Ecology, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, Beijing Normal University, 100875 Beijing, China
  • 4Dept. of Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences and ESSIC, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20740, USA
  • *These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. The important roles of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) in climate, weather and air quality have long been recognized, but little is known about the PBL climatology in China. Using the fine-resolution sounding observations made across China and reanalysis data, we conducted a comprehensive investigation of the PBL in China from January 2011 to July 2015. The boundary layer height (BLH) is found to be generally higher in spring and summer than that in fall and winter. The comparison of seasonally averaged BLHs derived from observations and reanalysis, on average, shows good agreement, despite the pronounced inconsistence in some regions. The BLH, derived from soundings conducted three or four times daily in summer, tends to peak in the early afternoon, and the diurnal amplitude of BLH is higher in the northern and western subregions of China than other subregions. The meteorological influence on the annual cycle of BLH is investigated as well, showing that BLH at most sounding sites is negatively associated with the surface pressure and lower tropospheric stability, but positively associated with the near-surface wind speed and temperature. In addition, cloud tends to suppress the development of PBL, particularly in the early afternoon. This indicates that meteorology plays a significant role in the PBL processes. Overall, the key findings obtained from this study lay a solid foundation for us to gain a deep insight into the fundamentals of PBL in China, which helps to understand the roles that the PBL plays in the air pollution, weather and climate of China.

Short summary
The large-scale PBL climatology from sounding observations is still lacking in China. This work investigated the BLH characterization at diurnal, monthly and seasonal timescales throughout China, showing large geographic and meteorological dependences. BLH is, on average, negatively (positively) associated with the surface pressure and lower tropospheric stability (wind speed and temperature). Cloud tends to suppress the development of the PBL, which has implications for air quality forecasts.
Final-revised paper