Convective Boundary Layer Heights Over Mountainous Terrain—A Review of Concepts
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Convective Boundary Layer Heights Over Mountainous Terrain—A Review of Concepts

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  • Journal Title:
    Frontiers in Earth Science
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    Mountainous terrain exerts an important influence on the Earth's atmosphere and affects atmospheric transport and mixing at a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The vertical scale of this transport and mixing is determined by the height of the atmospheric boundary layer, which is therefore an important parameter in air pollution studies, weather forecasting, climate modeling, and many other applications. It is recognized that the spatio-temporal structure of the daytime convective boundary layer (CBL) height is strongly modified and more complex in hilly and mountainous terrain compared to flat terrain. While the CBL over flat terrain is mostly dominated by turbulent convection, advection from multi-scale thermally driven flows plays an important role for the CBL evolution over mountainous terrain. However, detailed observations of the CBL structure and understanding of the underlying processes are still limited. Characteristics of CBL heights in mountainous terrain are reviewed for dry, convective conditions. CBLs in valleys and basins, where hazardous accumulation of pollutants is of particular concern, are relatively well-understood compared to CBLs over slopes, ridges, or mountain peaks. Interests in the initiation of shallow and deep convection, and of budgets and long-range transport of air pollutants and trace gases, have triggered some recent studies on terrain induced exchange processes between the CBL and the overlying atmosphere. These studies have helped to gain more insight into CBL structure over complex mountainous terrain, but also show that the universal definition of CBL height over mountains remains an unresolved issue. The review summarizes the progress that has been made in documenting and understanding spatio-temporal behavior of CBL heights in mountainous terrain and concludes with a discussion of open research questions and opportunities for future research.
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    Frontiers in Earth Science, 3
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    CC BY
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