Review and intercomparison of operational methods for the determination of the mixing height

P. Seibert, F. Beyrich, Sven-Erik Gryning, S. Joffre, A. Rasmussen, P. Tercier

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    The height of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) or the mixing height (MH) is a fundamental parameter characterising the structure of the lower troposphere. Two basic possibilities for the practical determination of the MH are its derivation from profile data (measurements or numerical model output) and its parameterisation using simple equations or models (which only need a few measured input values). Different methods suggested in the literature are reviewed in this paper. The most important methods have been tested on data sets from three different sites in Europe (Cabauw - NL, Payerne - CH, Melpitz - D). Parcel and Richardson number methods applied to radiosonde profiles and the analysis of sodar and wind profiler data have been investigated. Modules for MH determination implemented in five currently used meteorological preprocessors for dispersion models have been tested, too. Parcel methods using a revised coefficient for the excess temperature and Richardson number methods using a surface excess temperature worked well under convective conditions. Under stable conditions, the inherent difficulties call for a combination of several methods (e.g.., mast and sodar). All the tested parameterisation schemes showed deficiencies under certain conditions, thus requiring more flexible algorithms able to take into account changing and non-classical conditions. Recommendations are formulated regarding both the analysis of profile measurements and the use of parameterisations and simple models, and suggestions for the preprocessor development and for Future research activities are presented. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Issue number7
    Pages (from-to)1001-1027
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • Atmospheric boundary layer height
    • Stable boundary layer
    • Convective boundary layer
    • Dispersion model
    • Turbulence

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