Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Improved boundary layer depth retrievals from MPLNET



[1] Continuous lidar observations of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) depth have been made at the Micropulse Lidar Network (MPLNET) site in Greenbelt, Maryland, since April 2001. However, because of issues with the operational PBL depth algorithm, the data are not reliable for determining seasonal and diurnal trends. Therefore, an improved PBL depth algorithm has been developed which uses a combination of the wavelet technique and image processing. The new algorithm is less susceptible to contamination by clouds and residual layers and, in general, produces lower PBL depths. A 2010 comparison shows the operational algorithm overestimates the daily mean PBL depth when compared to the improved algorithm (1.85 and 1.07 km, respectively). The improved MPLNET PBL depths are validated using radiosonde comparisons, which suggests the algorithm performs well to determine the depth of a fully developed PBL. A comparison with the Goddard Earth Observing System version 5 (GEOS-5) model suggests that the model may underestimate the maximum daytime PBL depth by ∼410 m during the spring and summer. The best agreement between MPLNET and GEOS-5 occurred during the fall and they differed the most in the winter.