A case study of boundary layer ventilation by convection and coastal processes
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/2006JD007984
It is often assumed that ventilation of the atmospheric boundary layer is weak in the absence of fronts, but is this always true? In this paper we investigate the processes responsible for ventilation of the atmospheric boundary layer during a nonfrontal day that occurred on 9 May 2005 using the UK Met Office Unified Model. Pollution sources are represented by the constant emission of a passive tracer everywhere over land. The ventilation processes observed include shallow convection, turbulent mixing followed by large-scale ascent, a sea breeze circulation and coastal outflow. Vertical distributions of tracer are validated qualitatively with AMPEP (Aircraft Measurement of chemical Processing Export fluxes of Pollutants over the UK) CO aircraft measurements and are shown to agree impressively well. Budget calculations of tracers are performed in order to determine the relative importance of these ventilation processes. Coastal outflow and the sea breeze circulation were found to ventilate 26% of the boundary layer tracer by sunset of which 2% was above 2 km. A combination of coastal outflow, the sea breeze circulation, turbulent mixing and large-scale ascent ventilated 46% of the boundary layer tracer, of which 10% was above 2 km. Finally, coastal outflow, the sea breeze circulation, turbulent mixing, large-scale ascent and shallow convection together ventilated 52% of the tracer into the free troposphere, of which 26% was above 2 km. Hence this study shows that significant ventilation of the boundary layer can occur in the absence of fronts (and thus during high-pressure events). Turbulent mixing and convection processes can double the amount of pollution ventilated from the boundary layer.