Near-surface temperature inversion growth rate during the onset of the stable boundary layer

Ivo G.S. Van Hooijdonk*, Herman J.H. Clercx, Carsten Abraham, Amber M. Holdsworth, Adam H. Monahan, Etienne Vignon, Arnold F. Moene, Peter Baas, Bas J.H. Van De Wiel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
110 Downloads (Pure)


This study aims to find the typical growth rate of the temperature inversion during the onset of the stable boundary layer around sunset.The sunset transition is a very challenging period for numerical weather prediction, since neither accepted theories for the convective boundary layer nor those for the stable boundary layer appear to be applicable. To gainmore insight in this period, a systematic investigation of the temperature inversion growth rate is conducted. A statistical procedure is used to analyze almost 16 years of observations from the Cabauw observational tower, supported by observations from two additional sites (DomeCandKarlsruhe). The results show that, on average, the growth rate of the temperature inversion (normalized by the maximum inversion during the night) weakly declines with increasing wind speed. The observed growth rate is quantitatively consistent among the sites, and it appears insensitive to various other parameters. The results were also insensitive to the afternoon decay rate of the net radiation except when this decay rate was very weak. These observations are compared to numerical solutions of three models with increasing complexity: a bulk model, an idealized single-column model (SCM), and an operational-level SCM. It appears only the latter could reproduce qualitative features of the observations using a first-order closure. Moreover, replacing this closure with a prognostic TKE scheme substantially improved the quantitative performance. This suggests that idealized models assuming instantaneous equilibrium flux-profile relations may not aid in understanding this period, since history effects may qualitatively affect the dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3433-3449
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of the Atmospheric Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Boundary layer
  • Classification
  • In situ atmospheric observations
  • Radiative forcing
  • Single column models
  • Temperature


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