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Observations of the morning development of the urban boundary layer over London, UK, taken during the ACTUAL project

Halios, C. H. and Barlow, J. F. (2018) Observations of the morning development of the urban boundary layer over London, UK, taken during the ACTUAL project. Boundary-Layer Meteorology, 166 (3). pp. 395-422. ISSN 0006-8314

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s10546-017-0300-z


The study of the boundary layer can be most difficult when it is in transition and forced by a complex surface, such as an urban area. Here, a novel combination of ground-based remote sensing and in situ instrumentation in central London, UK, is deployed, aiming to capture the full evolution of the urban boundary layer (UBL) from night-time until the fully-developed convective phase. In contrast with the night-time stable boundary layer observed over rural areas, the night-time UBL is weakly convective. Therefore, a new approach for the detection of the morning-transition and rapid-growth phases is introduced, based on the sharp, quasi-linear increase of the mixing height. The urban morning-transition phase varied in duration between 0.5 and 4 h and the growth rate of the mixing layer during the rapid-growth phase had a strong positive relationship with the convective velocity scale, and a weaker, negative relationship with wind speed. Wind shear was found to be higher during the night-time and morning-transition phases than the rapid-growth phase and the shear production of turbulent kinetic energy near the mixing-layer top was around six times larger than surface shear production in summer, and around 1.5 times larger in winter. In summer under low winds, low-level jets dominated the UBL, and shear production was greater than buoyant production during the night-time and the morning-transition phase near the mixing-layer top. Within the rapid-growth phase, buoyant production dominated at the surface, but shear production dominated in the upper half of the UBL. These results imply that regional flows such as low-level jets play an important role alongside surface forcing in determining UBL structure and growth.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
Science > School of the Built Environment > Energy and Environmental Engineering group
ID Code:75392


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