Structure and Optical Properties of the Atmospheric Boundary Layer over Dusty Hot Deserts
Abstract:Strong sensible heat fluxes and deep turbulent mixing – together with marked dustiness and a low substrate water content – represent a characteristic signature of the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) over hot deserts, resulting in “thicker” mixing layers and peculiar optical properties. Beside these main common features however, desert boundary layers present extremely complex local structures that have been scarcely addressed in the literature, and whose understanding is essential in modeling processes such as transport and deposition of dust and pollutants, local wind fields, turbulent fluxes and their impacts on the sustainable development, human health and solar energy harvesting in these regions.
In this study, we explore the potential of the joint usage of Lidar Ceilometer backscattering profiles and sun-photometer optical depth retrievals to quantitatively determine the vertical aerosol profile over dusty hot desert regions. Toward this goal, we analyze a continuous record of observations of the atmospheric boundary layer height from a single lens LiDAR ceilometer operated at Masdar Institute Field Station (24.4425N 54.6163E, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates), starting March 2013, and the concurrent measurements of aerosol optical depth derived independently from the Masdar Institute AERONET sun-photometer. The main features of the desert ABL are obtained from the ceilometer range corrected backscattering profiles through bi-dimensional clustering technique we developed as a modification of the recently proposed single-profile clustering method, and therefore “directly” and “indirectly” calibrated to obtain a full diurnal cycle climatology of the aerosol optical depth and aerosol profiles. The challenges and the advantages of applying a similar methodology to the monitoring of aerosols and dust over hyper-arid regions are also discussed, together with the issues related to the sensitivity of commercial ceilometers to changes in the solar background.