Articles | Volume 8, issue 23
10 Dec 2008
 | 10 Dec 2008

Continuous monitoring of the boundary-layer top with lidar

H. Baars, A. Ansmann, R. Engelmann, and D. Althausen

Abstract. Continuous lidar observations of the top height of the boundary layer (BL top) have been performed at Leipzig (51.3° N, 12.4° E), Germany, since August 2005. The results of measurements taken with a compact, automated Raman lidar over a one–year period (February 2006 to January 2007) are presented. Main goals of the study are (a) to demonstrate that BL top monitoring with lidar throughout the year is possible, (b) to present the required data analysis method that permits an automated, robust retrieval of BL top at all weather situations, and (c) to use this opportunity to compare the lidar-derived BL top data with respective BL tops hourly predicted by the regional weather forecast model COSMO. Four different lidar methods for the determination of the BL top are discussed. The wavelet covariance algorithm is modified so that an automated retrieval of BL depths from lidar data is possible. Three case studies of simultaneous observations with the Raman lidar, a vertical-wind Doppler lidar, and accompanying radiosonde profiling of temperature and humidity are presented to compare the potential and the limits of the four lidar techniques. The statistical analysis of the one-year data set reveals that the seasonal mean of the daytime (about 08:00–20:00 Local Time, LT) maximum BL top is 1400 m in spring, 1800 m in summer, 1200 m in autumn, and 800 m in winter at the continental, central European site. BL top typically increases by 100–300 m per hour in the morning of convective days. The comparison between the lidar-derived BL top heights and the predictions of COSMO yields a general underestimation of the BL top by about 20% by the model.

Final-revised paper