Chinese Science Bulletin, Volume 64 , Issue 15 : 1637-1650(2019) https://doi.org/10.1360/N972018-01014

The energy mechanism controlling the continuous development of a super-thick atmospheric convective boundary layer during continuous summer sunny periods in an arid area

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  • ReceivedOct 14, 2018
  • AcceptedMar 11, 2019
  • PublishedApr 28, 2019


In the arid regions of the world, due to the specific climatic and environmental background, a super-thick convective boundary layer (SCBL) often develops on sunny days in summer, whereas such phenomena rarely occur in other areas. This special boundary layer structure has an important synoptic and climatic significance, but there have been few studies of its development mechanism in arid areas, which greatly restricts the parametric improvement of the SCBL and our understanding of the interaction between weather and climate processes. This study was conducted in Dunhuang, which is located in the hinterland of northwest China. Based on data obtained from land-air interaction experiments and long-term operational sounding observations in this region, the energy mechanism controlling the development of the CBL and the developmental process of the SCBL were systematically analyzed. In arid northwest China, it is possible that the thickness of the CBL can extend to over 3 km for most of the year, except winter. Even in the early summer, when there is little rain and strong solar radiation, the thickness of the CBL may reach an extreme state of 5.4 km. The thickness of the CBL at this time is higher than that observed in midsummer, when there is slightly more precipitation in this area. This is basically consistent with the extreme thickness of the CBL recently discovered in the Sahara Desert in Africa. In the general mechanism that controls the development of the CBL, there is a close relationship between the development of the CBL and the sensible heat flux of the surface. However, the correlation between the thickness of the CBL and the surface sensible heat flux at the same time is not strong, whereas the correlation between the thickness of the CBL and the cumulative surface sensible heat flux is very strong. This indicates that the development of the CBL is the result of the continuous accumulation of the sensible heat flux on the surface, which is consistent with the energy mechanism controlling the CBL. Although the development of the CBL is closely related to the cumulative heating effect of the daytime surface sensible heat flux, the CBL would still continue to increase even if the integral value of the daytime surface sensible heat flux remained unchanged or even weakened during the continuous clear sky period. The energy provided through sensible heat does not fully explain the energy required to develop the CBL. This is mainly because the deep near-neutral residual layer (RL) background plays an important role in the development of the SCBL. The entrainment energy from the deep RL to the CBL is the key energy supply for the continuous development of the CBL. The sum of the entrainment energy and surface sensible heat energy coincides with the energy absorbed by the development of the SCBL. The reason for the occurrence of an SCBL in arid areas is not only the strong sensible heating in summer but also the persistent clear skies in such areas. In each continuous clear sky period, the positive feedback mechanism between the CBL and the RL will become operational. Under this mechanism, the daily maximum thickness of the CBL and the thickness of the RL will increase continuously. The thickness of the SCBL is generally over 3 km, although depths of over 5 km can develop through a cyclic growth mechanism during periods of strong surface heating. Otherwise, the thickness of the CBL can only reach 2–3 km in summer, and it is unlikely that an SCBL will develop. Strong sensible heating is the key trigger of the positive feedback cycle growth mechanism between the CBL and the RL, which explains why the SCBL phenomenon can only occur in dry areas, with intense surface heating in summer.

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图S1 陆-气相互作用综合观测试验期累积地表感热通量与累积地-气温差的对比

图S2 感热加热作用下对流边界层发展的能量示意图

图S3 陆-气相互作用综合观测试验期对流边界层发展所吸收的能量与地表感热通量累积提供的能量对比

图S4 雨天转晴和阴天转晴的持续晴空期日最大对流边界层归一化厚度变化特征

图S5 阴天转晴类型和雨天转晴类型对流边界层发展过程中物理参数对比

图S6 累积地-气温差随对流边界层日最大厚度分布的离散棒和对流边界层日最大厚度区间地-气温差累积值的正态分布图

图S7 几次持续晴空期对流边界层日最大厚度的日增幅与每日残余层夹卷能量及对流边界层日最大厚度与每日总能量之间的相关性比较

本文以上补充材料见网络版csb.scichina.com. 补充材料为作者提供的原始数据, 作者对其学术质量和内容负责.


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  • Figure 1

    Comparison of the thickness of the CBL determined by the method of potential temperature profile and dry adiabatic curve

  • Figure 2

    Annual cycle characteristics of maximum daily thickness of CBL in Dunhuang in 2006−2016

  • Figure 3

    Correlation of CBL thickness with real-time sensible heat flux (a) and cumulative sensible heat flux (b) in the period of comprehensive observation of land-air interaction

  • Figure 4

    Correlation between CBL thickness and sensible heat flux integral value (a) and variation trend of diurnal maximum CBL thickness and sensible heat flux integral value (b) in July 8–11, 2006

  • Figure 5

    Schematic diagram of entrainment energy in RL energy development to CBL development. The AB line is the inverted potential temperature profile without RL

  • Figure 6

    Comparison of the correlation between the energy absorbed by the development of the CBL, and the sum of the surface sensible heat flux and the entrainment energy of the RL in the period of comprehensive observation of land-air interaction

  • Figure 7

    Variation trend of maximum daily CBL thickness, RL thickness, the sum of sources energy and RL entrainment energy during persistent sunny days in 8−11 July, 2006

  • Figure 8

    Schematic diagram of positive feedback growth mechanism between super thick CBL and RL

  • Table 1   Statistical comparison of physical parameters in the development of CBL during cloudy day turn to sunny day type and rainy day turn to sunny day type






















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