Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 32769-32810, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
A conceptual framework to quantify the influence of convective boundary layer development on carbon dioxide mixing ratios
D. Pino1, J. Vilà-Guerau de Arellano2, W. Peters2, J. Schroter2, C. C. van Heerwaarden2, and M. Krol2
1Applied Physics Department, BarcelonaTech (UPC) and Institute for Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC-UPC), Barcelona, Spain
2Meteorology and Air Quality Section, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Abstract. Interpretation of observed diurnal carbon dioxide (CO2) mixing ratios near the surface requires knowledge of the local dynamics of the planetary boundary layer. In this paper, we quantify the relationship between the boundary layer dynamics and the CO2 budget in convective conditions through a newly derived set of analytical equations. From these equations, we are able to quantify how uncertainties in boundary layer dynamical variables or in the morning CO2 distribution in the mixed-layer or in the free atmosphere influence the bulk CO2 mixing ratio.

We find that the largest uncertainty incurred on the mid-day CO2 mixing ratio comes from the prescribed early morning CO2 mixing ratios in the stable boundary layer, and in the free atmosphere. Errors in these values influence CO2 mixing ratios inversely proportional to the boundary layer depth (h), just like uncertainties in the assumed initial boundary layer depth and surface CO2 flux. The influence of uncertainties in the boundary layer depth itself are one order of magnitude smaller. If we "invert" the problem and calculate CO2 surface exchange from observed or simulated CO2 mixing ratios, the sensitivities to errors in boundary layer dynamics also invert: they become linearly proportional to the boundary layer depth.

We demonstrate these relations for a typical well characterized situation at the Cabauw tower in the Netherlands, and conclude that knowledge of the temperature and carbon dioxide vertical profiles in the early morning are of vital importance to correctly interpret observed CO2 mixing ratios during midday.

Citation: Pino, D., Vilà-Guerau de Arellano, J., Peters, W., Schroter, J., van Heerwaarden, C. C., and Krol, M.: A conceptual framework to quantify the influence of convective boundary layer development on carbon dioxide mixing ratios, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 32769-32810, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-32769-2011, 2011.
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