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ISSN  2096-3955

CN  10-1502/P

Citation: Gu, J., Zhang, Y. H., Yang, N., and Wang, R. (2020). Diurnal variability of the planetary boundary layer height estimated from radiosonde data. Earth Planet. Phys., 4(5), 479–492doi: 10.26464/epp2020042

doi: 10.26464/epp2020042


Diurnal variability of the planetary boundary layer height estimated from radiosonde data


School of Hydrology and Water Resources, Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology, Nanjing 210044, China


State Oceanic Administration Key Laboratory for Polar Science, Polar Research Institute of China, Shanghai 200136, China

Corresponding author: YeHui Zhang,

Received Date: 2020-04-24
Web Publishing Date: 2020-09-25

Diurnal variations in the planetary boundary layer height (PBLH) at different latitudes over different surface characteristics are described, based on 45 years (1973−2017) of radiosonde observations. The PBLH is determined from the radiosonde data by the bulk Richardson number (BRN) method and verified by the parcel method and the potential temperature gradient method. In general, the BRN method is able to represent the height of the convective boundary layer (BL) and neutral residual layer cases but has relatively large uncertainty in the stable BL cases. The diurnal cycle of the PBLH over land is quite different from the cycle over ocean, as are their seasonal variations. For stations over land, the PBLH shows an apparent diurnal cycle, with a distinct maximum around 15:00 LT, and seasonal variation, with higher values in summer. Compared with the PBLH over land, over oceans the PBLH diurnal cycles are quite mild, the PBLHs are much lower, and the seasonal changes are less pronounced. The seasonal variations in the median PBLH diurnal cycle are positively correlated with the near-surface temperature and negatively correlated with the near-surface relative humidity. Finally, although at most latitudes the daytime PBLH exhibits, over these 45 years, a statistically significant increasing trend at most hours between 12:00 LT and 18:00 LT over both land and ocean, there is no significant trend over either land or ocean in the nighttime PBLH for almost all the studied latitudes.

Key words: planetary boundary layer height, diurnal cycle, radiosonde

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Diurnal variability of the planetary boundary layer height estimated from radiosonde data

Jie Gu, YeHui Zhang, Na Yang, Rui Wang