Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility US Department of Energy

pblht > Planetary Boundary Layer HeightVAP Type(s) > Baseline • Evaluation

The top three plots for micropulse lidar (MPL) backscatter, ceilometer (CEIL) backscatter, and Doppler lidar (DL) vertical air motion variance show height (km, AGL) from 6 to about 19 local time at ARM's Southern Great Plains atmospheric observatory. The bottom plot shows PBLHT (km, AGL) for PBLHT-MPL, CEIL, DL, and SONDE products.The structure and depth of the planetary boundary layer (PBL) play a crucial role in various atmospheric processes, including cloud formation and aerosol and chemical mixing, transport, and transformation. Errors in the determination of PBL height can significantly affect the formation and maintenance of low-level clouds and the initiation of convective clouds in models. Numerous instruments and algorithms have been used for PBL height estimation, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.

To that end, ARM has developed a set of Planetary Boundary Layer Height (PBLHT) value-added products that scientists can use to evaluate and compare estimates. ARM’s PBLHT products are derived from micropulse lidar (PBLHTMPL), Doppler lidar (PBLHTDL), and radiosonde data (PBLHTSONDE).

In addition, ARM hosts ceilometer-derived estimates of PBL height (CEILPBLHT), which are produced directly from vendor-provided instrument operation software.


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Content time range 1 April 2001 - 25 January 2023


Giangrande S, J Comstock, S Collis, J Shilling, K Gaustad, K Kehoe, S Xie, and D Zhang. 2022. Translator Plan: A Coordinated Vision for Fiscal Years 2023-2025. Ed. by Robert Stafford, ARM user facility. DOE/SC-ARM-22-003. 10.2172/1893730.

Zhang D, J Comstock, and V Morris. 2022. "Comparison of planetary boundary layer height from ceilometer with ARM radiosonde data." Atmospheric Measurement Techniques, 15(16), 10.5194/amt-15-4735-2022.

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Chen H, A Hodshire, J Ortega, J Greenberg, P McMurry, A Carlton, J Pierce, D Hanson, and J Smith. 2017. "Vertically resolved concentration and liquid water content of atmospheric nanoparticles at the US DOE Southern Great Plains site." Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 18(1), doi:10.5194/acp-18-311-2018.
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