Surface Meteorological Conditions and Boundary Layer Height Variations During an Air Pollution Episode in Nanjing, China

J. Yin, C. Y. Gao, J. Hong, Z. Gao, Y. Li, X. Li, S. Fan, B. Zhu

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4 Citations (Scopus)


The evolution of planetary boundary layer (PBL) was investigated using observations from a laser ceilometer, an eddy covariance system, and an automatic meteorological station in the north of Nanjing city during an air pollution episode in 2016–2017 winter. Based on 7-day observation under clean to polluted day, we recorded the temporal variations of backscatter signals observed by the ceilometer, and then intercompared the planetary boundary layer height (PBLH) retrieved from individual methods. The results show that backscatter signal gradient, standard deviation, and wavelet transform analysis methods generated similar PBLH values and PBL diurnal variation patterns. Moreover, the PBL structure varied diurnally, with distinct patterns corresponding to clean and polluted days. Based on these measurements, the relationships between PBLH, weather conditions, and contaminants were analyzed. Results show that on clean days, strong surface turbulence exchange makes the PBL fully developed and makes the PBLH increase sharply after sunrise, with a maximum of 1,483 m; on polluted days, stable synoptic conditions and the weaker wind speeds facilitated the accumulation of air pollutants, leading to smaller net surface radiation and weaker turbulence. Consequently, these conditions during polluted days led to lower PBLH values, which were typically less than 900 m.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3350-3364
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar 27

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology

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