Missed Fog? On the Potential of Obtaining Observations at Increased Resolution During Shallow Fog Events

Jonathan G. Izett*, Bart Schilperoort, Miriam Coenders-Gerrits, Peter Baas, Fred C. Bosveld, Bas J.H. van de Wiel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
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Conventional in situ observations of meteorological variables are restricted to a limited number of levels near the surface, with the lowest observation often made around 1-m height. This can result in missed observations of both shallow fog, and the initial growth stage of thicker fog layers. At the same time, numerical experiments have demonstrated the need for high vertical grid resolution in the near-surface layer to accurately simulate the onset of fog; this requires correspondingly high-resolution observational data for validation. A two-week field campaign was conducted in November 2017 at the Cabauw Experimental Site for Atmospheric Research (CESAR) in the Netherlands. The aim was to observe the growth of shallow fog layers and assess the possibility of obtaining very high-resolution observations near the surface during fog events. Temperature and relative humidity were measured at centimetre resolution in the lowest 7 m using distributed temperature sensing. Further, a novel approach was employed to estimate visibility in the lowest 2.5 m using a camera and an extended light source. These observations were supplemented by the existing conventional sensors at the site, including those along a 200-m tall tower. Comparison between the increased-resolution observations and their conventional counterparts show the errors to be small, giving confidence in the reliability of the techniques. The increased resolution of the observations subsequently allows for detailed investigations of fog growth and evolution. This includes the observation of large temperature inversions in the lowest metre (up to 5 K) and corresponding regions of (super)saturation where the fog formed. Throughout the two-week observation period, fog was observed twice at the conventional sensor height of 2.0 m. Two additional low-visibility events were observed in the lowest 0–0.5 m using the camera-based observations, but were missed by the conventional sensors. The camera observations also showed the growth of shallow radiation fog, forming in the lowest 0.5 m as early as two hours before it was observed at the conventional height of 2 m.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-309
Number of pages21
JournalBoundary-Layer Meteorology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Cabauw site
  • Distributed temperature sensing
  • Fog
  • High-resolution observations
  • Stable boundary layer


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