1University of California, Davis, Dept. of Land, Air, and Water Resources, Davis, California, USA
2University of California, Berkeley, Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, Berkeley, California, USA
3California State University, Sacramento, Dept. of Chemistry, California, USA
*now at: California Air Resources Board, Sacramento, California, USA
Abstract. In this study the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL) height (zi) over complex, forested terrain is estimated based on the power spectra and the integral length scale of horizontal winds obtained from a three-axis sonic anemometer during the BEARPEX (Biosphere Effects on Aerosol and Photochemistry) Experiment. The zi values estimated with this technique showed very good agreement with observations obtained from balloon tether sonde (2007) and rawinsonde (2009) measurements under unstable conditions (z/L < 0) at the coniferous forest in the California Sierra Nevada. The behavior of the nocturnal boundary layer height (h) and power spectra of lateral winds and temperature under stable conditions (z/L > 0) is also presented. The nocturnal boundary layer height is found to be fairly well predicted by a recent interpolation formula proposed by Zilitinkevich et al. (2007), although it was observed to only vary from 60–80 m during the experiment. Finally, significant directional wind shear was observed during both day and night with winds backing from the prevailing west-southwesterlies in the ABL (anabatic cross-valley circulation) to consistent southerlies in a layer ~1 km thick just above the ABL before veering to the prevailing westerlies further aloft. We show that this is consistent with the forcing of a thermal wind driven by the regional temperature gradient directed due east in the lower troposphere.