Multiscale Variability of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer during DYNAMO
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Multiscale Variability of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer during DYNAMO

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  • Journal Title:
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences
  • Description:
    Properties of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) over the central Indian Ocean are investigated using sounding data obtained during the Dynamics of the MJO (DYNAMO) field campaign in 2011/12. Observations from Gan Island on Addu Atoll, the R/V Revelle, and Malé in the Maldives are used to determine the frequency of well-mixed layers and their mean thermodynamic and wind profiles. Well-mixed boundary layers or mixed layers were observed 68% of the time from the three sites, ranging from ~100-m depth in recovering convective downdraft wakes to ~925 m in undisturbed conditions, with a mean depth of 508 m. At Revelle, the site most representative of the open ocean, the ABL displayed a distinct signal of modulation by the October and November MJOs, with mixed-layer depths gradually increasing through the suppressed phases as the sea surface temperature (SST) increased leading up to the active phases, followed by frequent ABL stabilization and shallow mixed layers in recovering wakes. A distinct diurnal cycle of mixed-layer depths and properties was observed during the MJO suppressed phases in response to a diurnal cycle of the SST under the mostly light-wind, clear-sky conditions. The daytime growth of the mixed layer contributed to an afternoon maximum in cumulus cloud development and rainfall during the suppressed periods by allowing more boundary layer thermals to reach their condensation levels. The variability of the ABL on time scales ranging from convective to diurnal to monthly poses significant challenges for numerical simulations of the MJO and the tropical circulation in general.
  • Source:
    Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 74(12), 4003-4021
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