Marine boundary layer structure as observed by A-train satellites
Abstract. The marine boundary layer (MBL) structure is important to the marine low cloud processes, and the exchange of heat, momentum, and moisture between oceans and the low atmosphere. This study examines the MBL structure over the eastern Pacific region and further explores the controlling factors of MBL structure over the global oceans with a new 4-year satellite-based data set. The MBL top (boundary layer height, BLH) and the mixing layer height (MLH) were identified using the MBL aerosol lidar backscattering from the CALIPSO (Cloud–Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations). Results showed that the MBL is generally decoupled with MLH ∕ BLH ratio ranging from ∼ 0.5 to ∼ 0.8 over the eastern Pacific Ocean region. The MBL decoupling magnitude is mainly controlled by estimated inversion strength (EIS), which in turn controls the cloud top entrainment process. The systematic differences between drizzling and non-drizzling stratocumulus tops also show dependence on EIS. This may be related to the meso-scale circulations or gravity wave in the MBL. Further analysis indicates that the MBL shows a similar decoupled structure for clear-sky and cumulus-cloud-topped conditions, but is better mixed under stratiform cloud breakup and overcast conditions.