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Comparison of mixed layer heights from airborne high spectral resolution lidar, ground-based measurements, and the WRF-Chem model during CalNex and CARES

Author(s): A. J. Scarino | M. D. Obland | J. D. Fast | S. P. Burton | R. A. Ferrare | C. A. Hostetler | L. K. Berg | B. Lefer | C. Haman | J. W. Hair | R. R. Rogers | C. Butler | A. L. Cook | D. B. Harper

Journal: Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics Discussions
ISSN 1680-7367

Volume: 13;
Issue: 5;
Start page: 13721;
Date: 2013;
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The California Research at the Nexus of Air Quality and Climate Change (CalNex) and Carbonaceous Aerosol and Radiative Effects Study (CARES) field campaigns during May and June 2010 provided a data set appropriate for studying characteristics of the planetary boundary layer (PBL). The NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) airborne High Spectral Resolution Lidar (HSRL) was deployed to California onboard the NASA LaRC B-200 aircraft to aid in characterizing aerosol properties during these two field campaigns. Measurements of aerosol extinction (532 nm), backscatter (532 and 1064 nm), and depolarization (532 and 1064 nm) profiles during 31 flights, many in coordination with other research aircraft and ground sites, constitute a diverse data set for use in characterizing the spatial and temporal distribution of aerosols, as well as the depth and variability of the daytime mixed layer (ML), which is a subset within the PBL. This work illustrates the temporal and spatial variability of the ML in the vicinity of Los Angeles and Sacramento, CA. ML heights derived from HSRL measurements are compared to PBL heights derived from radiosonde profiles, ML heights measured from ceilometers, and simulated PBL heights from the Weather Research and Forecasting Chemistry (WRF-Chem) community model. Comparisons between the HSRL ML heights and the radiosonde profiles in Sacramento result in a correlation coefficient value (R) of 0.93 (root-mean-square (RMS) difference of 157 m and bias difference (HSRL – radiosonde) of 57 m). HSRL ML heights compare well with those from the ceilometer in the LA Basin with an R of 0.89 (RMS difference of 108 m and bias difference (HSRL – Ceilometer) of −9.7 m) for distances of up to 30 km between the B-200 flight track and the ceilometer site. Simulated PBL heights from WRF-Chem were compared with those obtained from all flights for each campaign, producing an R of 0.58 (RMS difference of 604 m and a bias difference (WRF-Chem – HSRL) of −157 m) for CalNex and 0.59 (RMS difference of 689 m and a bias difference (WRF-Chem – HSRL) of 220 m) for CARES. Aerosol backscatter simulations are also available from WRF-Chem and are compared to those from HSRL to examine differences among the methods used to derive ML heights.

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