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A Study of the Physical Processes of an Advection Fog Boundary Layer

Article  in  Boundary-Layer Meteorology · September 2015


DOI: 10.1007/s10546-015-0076-y

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Boundary-Layer Meteorol (2016) 158:125–138
DOI 10.1007/s10546-015-0076-y

NOTES AND COMMENTS

A Study of the Physical Processes of an Advection Fog


Boundary Layer

Duan Yang Liu1 · Wen Lian Yan1 · Jun Yang2 ·


Mei Juan Pu1 · Sheng Jie Niu2 · Zi Hua Li2

Received: 21 October 2014 / Accepted: 14 July 2015 / Published online: 11 September 2015
© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Abstract A large quantity of advection fog appeared in the Yangtze River delta region
between 1 and 2 December 2009. Here, we detail the fog formation and dissipation processes
and the background weather conditions. The fog boundary layer and its formation and dissi-
pation mechanisms have also been analyzed using field data recorded in a northern suburb of
Nanjing. The results showed the following: (1) This advection fog was generated by interac-
tion between advection of a north-east cold ground layer and a south-east warm upper layer.
The double-inversion structure generated by this interaction between the cold and warm
advections and steady south-east vapour transport was the main cause of this long-lasting
fog. The double-inversion structure provided good thermal conditions for the thick fog, and
the south-east vapour transport was not only conducive to maintaining the thickness of the
fog but also sustained its long duration. (2) The fog-top altitude was over 600 m for most of
the time, and the fog reduced visibility to less than 100 m for approximately 12 h. (3) The
low-level jet near the lower inversion layer also played a role in maintaining the thick fog
system by promoting heat, momentum and south-east vapour transport.

Keywords Advection fog · Cold advection · Fog boundary layer · Warm and humid
advection · Yangtze River delta

1 Introduction

Located on the east coast of China, the Yangtze River delta experiences relatively high
humidity. Thus, large quantities of advection fog often occur when the prevailing wind blows

B Zi Hua Li
414527587@qq.com
Duan Yang Liu
liuduanyang2001@126.com
1 Jiangsu Meteorological Observatory, Nanjing 210008, China
2 Key Laboratory for Atmospheric Physics and Environment CMA, Nanjing University of Information
Science & Technology, Nanjing 210044, China

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126 D. Y. Liu et al.

from the ocean to the land. Because the Yangtze River delta region has a high population
density, developed economy, and dense road, shipping and aviation networks, large quantities
of advection fog significantly affect people’s lives and work, causing serious economic loss.
Study of the formation and dissipation of advection fog in the Yangtze River delta is very
important for fog prediction and disaster prevention in this area.
Advection fog often appears near the coast (Koračin et al. 2005; Kim and Yum 2012a, b),
being relatively rare inland. Choi and Speer (2006) studied the formation mechanism of sea
and coastal fog using observation data and a numerical model. Kim and Yum (2012a, b)
examined the physical processes relevant to sea-fog formation over the eastern Yellow Sea.
Moreover, many scholars have studied the macro-physical structure of inland advection fog
(Wittich 1990). Land- and sea-breeze fogs are purely coastal phenomena and occur when
warm moist air over land is transported offshore over the cool coastal ocean, leading to fog
formation (Gultepe et al. 2007).
Gultepe et al. (2007) summarized past fog achievements related to the understanding of
fog formation, development and decay, also presenting advection fog in general detail. Once
fog has formed, its evolution is largely determined by the influences of radiative cooling at
fog top, subsidence, drizzle and the evolution of surface heat and moisture turbulent fluxes
as the air flows over sea-surface temperature gradients (Findlater et al. 1989).
The fog boundary layer (FBL) was first mentioned by Zhou and Ferrier (2008), who
characterized surface-induced turbulence as an FBL. Many field experiments in Canada
(Gultepe et al. 2009), France (Dupont et al. 2012; Menut et al. 2014) and China (Pu et al.
2008; Liu et al. 2010, 2011, 2012; Lu et al. 2010; Niu et al. 2010, 2012) have also been
carried out in advection FBL studies. The ParisFog field campaign studied the stratus-to-
fog transition, and documented the dynamical, radiative and micro-physical processes of the
formation and dissipation of three different stratus–fog events (Dupont et al. 2012). Then,
Liu et al. (2012) discussed different types of FBL in northern Nanjing in China as well as
FBL structures with a range of features.
Many researchers have used numerical models (Nishikawa et al. 2004; Nakanishi 2000;
Nakanishi and Niino 2006) as well as field observations to investigate fog. From such obser-
vations and large-eddy simulations, Price (2011) and Porson et al. (2011) found that, when
fog reached approximately 100 m in depth, it was observed to become optically thick (to
longwave radiation), with a subsequent change over several hours to a saturated adiabatic
stability profile. Using observations and a one-dimensional numerical model, Duynkerke
(1999) also demonstrated that, for any fog study, more accurate measurements of turbulence
quantities, especially the master length scale, are needed in a stable boundary layer (SBL).
Advection fog observations and observation instruments are relatively rare around the
world. There are even fewer systematic rawinsonde observations of the entire boundary layer.
The real physical processes of fog formation and dissipation are complex and affected by
a large variety of poorly understood factors. Although many numerical simulations have
been performed on advection fog, more boundary-layer observations are needed to fur-
ther understand advection fog; how does cold or warm advection influence fog evolution?
How does the advection influence the inversions? The present study uses FBL observa-
tions made from a moored balloon between 1 and 2 December 2009 to study processes
of advection fog formation and dissipation under cold and warm double-advection condi-
tions.
Section 2 describes the instruments and data, with results presented in Sect. 3, including
weather processes and the boundary-layer structure of the advection fog. Section 4 discusses
the mechanisms of the cold and warm advections and the role of the south-east low-level jet
in vapour transport. Finally, conclusions are given in Sect. 5.

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A Study of the Physical Processes… 127

2 Observations, Instruments and Data

The Meteorological Observation Base of China Meteorological Administration—Nanjing


University of Information Science and Technology comprehensive observation station (ele-
vation 25 m, 32◦ 12 N, 118◦ 42 E) is located in a northern suburb of Nanjing. The boundary
layer was observed via a DigiCORA moored-balloon low-altitude detection system (Vaisala,
Finland). The balloon took the sensor up to a height of 1000 m and recorded temperature,
pressure, humidity, wind direction and wind speed information at different altitudes. The
sample rate was approximately every 3 h during non-fog times, and every 1–2 h during
the fog. For the advection fog between 1 and 2 December 2009, a total of 15 pro-
files were collected between 1100 LST on December 1 when the fog started to form
and 1400 LST on December 2 when the fog dissipated. Doppler radar, with an effective
altitude detection of 500 m in fog, was used to detect the vertical distribution of three-
dimensional winds in the boundary layer. The complete set of wind direction and speed
profile data was sampled every 15 min. The meteorological observational data, including
temperature (air temperature, grass temperature, land surface temperature, soil temperature),
wind speed, wind direction, visibilities and fog area, were used to analyze the fog evolu-
tion.
To discuss the influence of the dynamic condition of the fog, the turbulence momentum
exchange coefficients were calculated using the balloon data according to Blackadar’s second-
order closure approximation (Cheng 1994):
Unstable:
K m = I 2 S(1 − 21Ri )0.5 , (1)
Stable:  i
Ric − Ri
if Ri ≤ Ric , K m = 1.1 I 2 S, (2)
Ric
and if Ri ≥ Ric ,
K m = 0, (3)
where  2
g ∂θ ∂u g (z 2 − z 1 )(θ2 − θ1 )
Ri = / ≈ , (4)
θ ∂z ∂z θ (u 2 − u 1 )2
and g is the acceleration due to gravity, θ2 , θ1 , u 2 , u 1 are the potential temperatures and wind
speeds at heights z 2 and z 1 , respectively. The critical value Ric = 0.25.
The expression for S is,
   
 ∂u   u 2 − u 1 
S =   =  . (5)
∂z z2 − z1 

3 Results

3.1 Weather Processes of the Advection Fog

The surface pressure map (not shown) for 2000 LST on 1 December 2009 shows that there
were two centres of high pressure moving south-east: one to the north of Lake Baikal and the
other between Western Mongolia and Xinjiang Province. At the same time, north and east
China were controlled by a weak high-pressure system. Between 1700 LST and 2300 LST

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128 D. Y. Liu et al.

on December 1, the centre of this weak high-pressure system was located along the north-
ern Jiangsu coast. Jiangsu and Anhui were to the south of the high-pressure system with
north-easterly winds, which promoted the formation and support of fog after 0800 LST on
December 2. Subsequently, the two high-pressure centres continued to move to the south-
east. The north-west flow became stronger in north and east China. At 1100 LST, the fog
began to dissipate in Nanjing, with clear skies later.

3.1.1 Regional Fog Formation and Dissipation Processes

The Yangtze–Huaihe region experienced rainy weather from 27 to 29 November 2009. On


November 30, the weather became cloudy and cleared at night. On the dawn of December 1,
a large amount of fog developed in Jiangsu and the central and northern areas of Anhui and
then dissipated in the afternoon. On the evening of December 1, the visibility decreased and
three fog zones formed in northern Anhui and northern and southern regions of the Yangtze
River (Fig. 1a).

Fig. 1 Surface observations of the fog processes between 1 and 2 December 2009: a 2000 LST on December 1;
b 0200 LST on December 2; c 0500 LST on December 2; d 0800 LST on December 2. Shadings represent air
temperature; arrows indicate wind direction; three horizontal line symbols indicate fog

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A Study of the Physical Processes… 129

At approximately 1930 LST on December 1, the fog first formed in regions north of the
Yangtze River and south of the Yangtze River, and the fog developed into thick fog (visibilities
<500 m) at 2000 LST. During this period, fog zones continued to spread to the south and
north of the Yangtze River, with the fog in these regions not dissipating until 1100 LST on
December 2.

3.1.2 Surface Temperature and Wind Conditions in the Yangtze River Region Before
and After the Fog

From the above analysis, the fog formation and propagation processes are closely related
to the temperature distribution and wind direction. Figure 1 shows that the air temperatures
before and after the fog had a positive gradient from north-east to south-west in Jiangsu
and Anhui. At 2000 LST on December 1, the temperature was less than 3 ◦ C in most of
the northern areas of these two provinces and increased to approximately 5 ◦ C in the area
along the river, whereas most of southern Suzhou was approximately 6 ◦ C. The temperature
gradient from south to north in these two provinces was larger in the Yangtze–Huaihe area
and the region along the river. From the surface observations (Fig. 1), we found that the
wind direction was north-east in the fog zone at 2000 LST on December 1, with wind speed
>2 m s−1 . This process resulted in a decrease in the fog-zone air temperature. Easterly winds
near the ground were sustained, and the fog dissipated when the flow turned north-west. The
easterly flow near the surface suggested the formation and preservation of the fog.
The main factors responsible for this long-lasting fog were likely the north-east to
south-west land-surface temperature differences in Jiangsu and Anhui Provinces, the high
temperature gradient along the river and the easterly wind. The area affected by this advection
fog was extensive, and its duration was long. The fog first formed in the region with high
horizontal temperature gradients and then extended to surrounding areas.
Based on the analysis above, we conclude that the large-scale background conditions pro-
vided a favourable environment for fog formation. The weak high-pressure centre constantly
remained in the Jiangsu and Anhui region, creating a stable layer structure near the sur-
face and promoting fog formation and preservation. At 925 hPa, north-east warm advection
was observed, whereas a cold easterly flow was seen close to the surface. The interaction
between the cold advection of the lower layer and the warm humid advection at 925 hPa
strongly suggested an advection fog process.

3.2 Boundary-Layer Structure of the Advection Fog

3.2.1 Evolution Process of Surface Fog

Figure 2 shows time-series maps of surface visibility, wind direction, wind speed and tem-
perature (2-m air temperature, grass, ground and soil temperatures at depths of 0.05 and
0.1 m) at the observation station before and after the fog. The advection fog occurred at
1900 LST on December 1 (visibility: <1000 m) and lasted until 1120 LST on December 2.
Based on the changes in visibility, we can divide the fog processes into four stages: formation,
development, maintenance and dissipation.

(1) Formation (1100–1900 LST, December 1): at 1000–1400 LST on December 1, the
weather was clear above the station, and the land-surface temperature was 13 ◦ C, the
grass temperature 16 ◦ C and the air temperature 8 ◦ C. The northerly wind speed was 1–
2.5 m s−1 , and the visibility was approximately 3000 m. After 1400 LST, the wind turned

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130 D. Y. Liu et al.

Wind direction Speed(m s-1) 5


4
3 Formation Development Maintenance Dissipation
2
1
0 wind speed
360
300 wind direction
240
180
120
60
180
15 AirTemperature Grass Temperature Land Surface Temperature
T(0C)

12 5cm SoilTemperature 10cm SoilTemperature


9
6
3
3000
2500 visibility
vis(m)

2000
1500
1000
500
0
12/1 12:00

12/1 15:00

12/1 18:00

12/1 21:00

12/1 24:00

12/2 03:00

12/2 06:00

12/2 09:00

12/2 12:00
Fig. 2 Time changes of surface visibility, wind direction, wind speed and temperature (2-m, air, grass and
land surface temperatures and temperatures at depths of 0.05 and 0.1 m)

to a north-easterly to northerly direction, and the temperature and visibility decreased.


After sunset (1705 LST), there were two changes in temperature: the surface temperature
became close to the air temperature, whereas the grass temperature became slightly lower
than the air temperature. The other change involved the soil temperature at the depth of
0.05 m, becoming lower than that at the depth of 0.10 m. During this period, visibility
decreased rapidly, especially between 1855 and 1900 LST, from 1200 to 1000 m. At
1904 LST, the visibility dropped sharply to 538 m. During this state, the sky remained
clear.
(2) Development (1900–2120 LST, December 1): the visibility was greater than 500 m
following the formation stage but dropped below 500 m at 2036 LST. In only 1.5 h,
the fog developed into a thick fog with visibility of approximately 100 m. The ground
surface, grass surface and air temperatures continued to decrease. The wind was north-
easterly and then turned to easterly, with speed less than 3 m s−1 near the ground.
(3) Maintenance (2120 LST, December 1 to 0940 LST, December 2): following the forma-
tion of thick fog, the surface temperature increased from 5.5 to 6 ◦ C, then decreased due
to the cold advection current. After 2110 LST, the temperature increased with decreasing
altitude (the temperature increases from the 2-m temperature to the surface temperature
to the soil temperature at a depth of 0.1 m). The variance of temperature between each
layer was not large. The air, grass and surface temperatures were maintained at 4, 4
and 6 ◦ C, respectively. The visibility remained less than 100 m for approximately 12 h
(2120 LST December 1 to 0912 LST December 2) and was relatively stable. The sur-
face wind speed was approximately 1–3 m s−1 . The wind direction was north-east or
south-east and changed to north-west at 0730 LST on December 2. After the change of
the wind direction, the wind speed gradually increased, the visibility increased and the
fog began to dissipate after 2 h.

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A Study of the Physical Processes… 131

(4) Dissipation (0940–1120 LST, December 2): the surface and grass temperatures began
to increase, the air temperature and wind speed remained constant, visibility increased,
and the wind direction was north-west until the fog dissipated.

This analysis demonstrates that the thick fog dissipated in the 2 h after the wind direction
shifted to the north-west.

3.2.2 Structure of the Thick Fog Layer

From the previous analysis, the interaction between the 925-hPa south-east warm humid
advection and the surface north-east cold advection promoted the formation of the advection
fog. The macro-structure of this advection fog will be discussed using the 15 sounding
datasets collected by the moored balloon on 1 and 2 December 2009.
Figure 3 shows the time–height profiles of relative humidity and air temperature and also
the changes in the surface visibility.
(1) Formation (1100–1900 LST, December 1): at approximately 1100 LST, the relative humid-
ity was greater than 90 % below a height of 400 m. At 1400 LST, the relative humidity
increased to 90 % between 300 and 700 m (upper humidity layer).
After 1700 LST, the air temperature dramatically decreased below 250 m (lower cooling
zone). Above 700 m, the air temperature increased (upper warming zone). Between 710 and
950 m, a weak inversion layer (upper inversion) appeared, with strength of 0.5 ◦ C (100 m)−1 .
The layer between the lower cooling zone and the upper warming zone (middle quasi-
isothermal zone) had a stable air temperature. The humidity increased in the upper humidity
layer. The cloud layer first appeared at 440–660 m; subsequently, this cloud layer extended
to lower altitudes. At the same time, humidity increased between the surface and 210 m. The
cloud layer also appeared between 60 and 210 m. These two cloud layers merged together with
the lower cloud layer touching the ground, and the fog formed. Thus, the advection fog formed
at a low altitude before reaching the ground and becoming “fog”. The thickness of the fog was
600 m.
(2) Development (1900–2120 LST, December 1): The fog top quickly rose to a height of
670 m (Fig. 3a). The double-inversion layered structure was created between the ground
surface and a height of 1200 m. The upper inversion layer was at 600–810 m and had
strength of 2.3 ◦ C (100 m)−1 . The other inversion layer was at 180–250 m and had strength of
2.4 ◦ C (100 m)−1 . The top of the fog was located at the bottom of the upper inversion layer,
and the humidity decreased rapidly above the fog top.
(3) Maintenance (2120 LST, December 1 to 0940 LST, December 2): Compared with the
previous stage, the height of the fog top changed slightly, with variations between 600 and
690 m height before 0500 LST on December 2 (at approximately 0200 LST, the fog layer
briefly dropped below 500 m height). After 0500 LST, the fog-layer height was 370 m, which
then increased to approximately 500 m.
During this stage, the temperature of the lower layer changed slightly. The lower inversion
layer top rose to 400 m. The temperature of the upper inversion layer gradually decreased, and
its strength decreased. After 0200 LST, the temperature continued to decrease for the region
below 400 m. The strength of the lower inversion increased. Between 0200 and 0700 LST,
the temperature above 500 m started to increase, and multiple inversion layers appeared. Sub-
sequently, the air temperature above 500 m decreased. The upper inversion layer weakened
and dissipated after 0700 LST. At 0940 LST, the lower inversion layer reached its maximum
strength of 5.75 ◦ C (100 m)−1 .

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132 D. Y. Liu et al.

(a) 1200 3200 100


99

Relative Humidy(%)
1000 2800 97

Visibility(m)
2400 90
Height (m)

800 2000 80
70
600 1600 60
400 1200 50
800 40
200 400 30
20
0 0
(b) 1200 10
1000
9.0
8.0
800 7.0
Height (m)

7 ć
6.0
600
5.0
400 4.0
3.0
200
2.0
0 1.0
(c) 1200 fog top base of lower inversiontop of lower inversion 1200
base of upper inversiontop of upper inversion
1000 1000

800 800
Height (m)

600 600

400 400

200 200

0 0
(d) 1200 1200 0.8

1000 1000 6.0 0.7


5.5 0.6

LWC(g m3)
Height (m)

800 800
4.6 0.5
600 600 3.7
0.4
0.3
400 Fog top 400 2.8
0.2
200 200 1.9 0.1
LWC
0 0 1.0 0.0
2009/12/1 11:00

2009/12/1 13:00

2009/12/1 15:00

2009/12/1 17:00

2009/12/1 19:00

2009/12/1 21:00

2009/12/1 23:00

2009/12/2 01:00

2009/12/2 03:00

2009/12/2 05:00

2009/12/2 07:00

2009/12/2 09:00

2009/12/2 11:00

MR (g kg-1)

Fig. 3 Time–height profile of a relative humidity (unit: %; the fog zone is represented by the red region with
relative humidity >99 %), b air temperature (◦ C), c wind speed (m s−1 ) and direction (including the fog top
and inversion layer), d mixing ratio (g kg−1 ) and surface observations of the fog LWC (g m−3 ) from 1 to 2
December 2009

(4) Dissipation (0940–1120 LST, December 2): After 0940 LST, the fog layer thickness
began to decrease, shrinking to 260 m by 1100 LST. The bottom of the lower inversion layer
dropped, its strength diminished, and the temperature increased. At 1100 LST, visibility was
over 1000 m, the ground fog disappeared, and the weather turned cloudy.
Based on the analysis above, an “upper warm/lower cold” inversion structure was created
during this thick fog formation. First, two low-altitude cloud layers appeared, then the lower
cloud layer descended to the ground, and the two cloud layers merged together to form a

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A Study of the Physical Processes… 133

fog layer. Due to the advection of north-westerly cold air, the upper warm layer advection
disappeared, and the fog layer finally dissipated.

3.3 Inversions and Water Vapour Structure

From the analysis of the advection FBL in Sect. 3.2, we know that, during the fog formation
stage, the visibility dropped from 1000 m (1900 LST) to 523 m (1904 LST) and that the air
temperature below 250 m dramatically decreased. Figure 3c also shows that, at approximately
1900 LST, the strength of the north-east flow below 250 m increased, and the air temperature
decreased due to the upstream cold air advection. Then, the humidity increased, visibility
dropped sharply, and fog formed. Thus, the ground fog was formed during the air temperature
decrease process of advection.
The inversion layer structure is a prerequisite for fog formation and maintenance. Radiation
fog inversion layers appear during radiation cooling at night, whereas advection fog inversion
layers form mainly from air advection. Typical advection fog is generated when warm, humid
air is advected over a cold substrate. The thick advection fog in this study was a joint effect
between lower cold advection and upper warm advection.
The previous section discussed the structure of the two inversion layers. Figure 3c shows
that, after 1400 LST on December 1, the wind direction below 200 m was north-east, whereas
between 500 and 900 m, the wind direction was south-east. The lower inversion layer was
mainly generated by the north-east cold advection close to the ground. The upper inversion
layer was formed by the south-east warm, humid advection. In Figs. 2, 3b and 4, the air
temperature of the ground layer decreased quickly under the influence of cold advection.
From 1650 to 1730 LST, due to an inversion layer, the ground air temperature fell by 2 ◦ C in
40 min, and the visibility decreased. At the same time, a cold ground layer with north-easterly
flow appeared near the inversion layer (Fig. 3a). The air temperature near the ground continued
to drop under the influence of cold advection, and the ground fog became increasingly thick.
The fog layer became a wet-adiabatic distribution. A strong inversion layer (Fig. 4, 2010 LST
isotherm) formed above the lower fog top (200–300 m), which is referred to as the lower
inversion layer. The lower inversion layer existed throughout the entire fog event, but it
varied in strength and height, finally dissipating due to the advection of north-western cold
air at 1300 LST on December 2.
In contrast to the ground-layer cold advection, the high-altitude layer was controlled by
south-east-directed warm, humid advection. The air temperature of the layer at 600–900 m
height increased by 2.5 ◦ C (Figs. 3b, 4) between 1650 and 2010 LST. However, the air
temperature of the intermediate layer at 200–600 m was stable. Consequently, the upper
inversion layer appeared above 600 m. The humid air then accumulated and created the
upper cloud layer (Fig. 3a) at the bottom of the inversion layer (440–660 m). The upper
inversion layer was quite stable, although its strength and height featured perturbations. The
air temperature in the upper inversion layer was 2 ◦ C higher than at the ground surface.
The upper inversion layer did not disappear until the advection of north-western cold air at
0900 LST on December 2.
The high-altitude south-easterly wind not only created the upper inversion layer but also
transported vapour-rich air to the fog zone. Figure 3d shows the time–height profile of the
water vapour mixing ratio. After the fog formation, the south-east wind delivered vapour-rich
air, and the 200–600 m height layer experienced a high water vapour mixing ratio.
In Fig. 3d, the lower layer’s water vapour mixing ratio decreased after the fog formation
because of condensation of lower-layer vapour. The observations of the fog droplet spectrum
(Fig. 3d, LWC line) shows that the ground fog’s water capacity increased when the lower-

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134 D. Y. Liu et al.

a1 a2

b1
b2

Fig. 4 Relative humidity (a) and air temperature (b) changes with height

layer mixing ratio decreased. In contrast, the water capacity of the ground decreased when
the lower-layer mixing ratio increased. Thus, the condensed fog drips near the ground came
from low-altitude vapour.

4 Discussion

From the analysis above, the south-east warm, humid advection of the upper layer generated
the upper inversion layer, where the upper-layer clouds formed. Studies have shown that
destabilization of the atmosphere via radiative cooling of stratus tops can also lead to enhanced
turbulence and downward mixing of cloud droplets, leading to fog (Gultepe et al. 2007). The
north-east cold advection near the ground and the warm, humid advection in the high-altitude
layer formed the lower-layer clouds and lower inversion layer. The two cloud layers joined
together, reached the ground surface, and formed a thick fog layer. Thus, the joint effects of
upper warm, humid advection and lower cold advection strongly suggested a double-inversion
structure, which sustained the thick fog.
Koračin et al. (2014) summarized marine fog studies, introducing advection warm fog
inversion formation with warm air advection above the inversion and cold air below the
inversion. This marine fog case was similar to this advection fog. The triggering mechanism
for saturation within the advection fog layer is still under investigation and debate. Koračin
et al. (2014) believe the triggering hypothesis to be that increased longwave flux divergence
at the top of a shallow marine layer with sufficiently uniform moisture leads to condensation

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A Study of the Physical Processes… 135

(a) (b)

(c) (d)

Fig. 5 Air temperature, wind speed and turbulence momentum exchange coefficient profiles

at the top of this shallow layer, which then rapidly propagates to the surface due to further
increases in longwave cooling at the fog top.
Figure 5 presents the vertical distribution of air temperature, wind speed and turbulence
momentum exchange coefficients at different times.
There was a low-level jet layer below the south-easterly wind close to the ground (Figs. 3c,
5). This layer is called the low-altitude low-level jet. The low-altitude low-level jet was located
near the top of the lower inversion layer (Fig. 3c) at approximately 200–300 m height. The
wind speed of the low-level jet was approximately 5–6.5 m s−1 , with minimum of 4 m s−1 .
The low-level jet layer did not dissipate until the advection of cold air from the north at
0700 LST on December 2. Studies have shown that the surface roughness is a primary factor
for shear generation. Thus, fogs are generally less likely to occur over rough compared with
smooth terrain, but either way the air parcel needs to be saturated (Gultepe et al. 2007). The
south-east warm advection over a north-east cold advection was easily saturated. Comparing
Figs. 5 and 3d, we find that the low-level jet is located at the centre of the region of high
water vapour mixing ratio (>5.5 g kg−1 ). This implies that the increase in the water vapour
mixing ratio in the low-level jet zone was caused by transport of the south-east wind. With the
increasing height of the lower inversion layer, the height of the low-level jet region increased

123
136 D. Y. Liu et al.

as well. Thus, the south-east warm, humid advection created not only the lower inversion
layer but also a steady vapour supply.
Figure 5 also shows that, beneath the low-level jet region, the turbulence momentum
exchange coefficients increased. This helped exchange of heat, momentum and vapour
between the lower and upper part of the inversion layer. However, the turbulence momentum
exchange coefficients were small beneath the fog zone low-level jet region.
Longwave radiative cooling, turbulence and advection have also been considered in numer-
ical studies and field observations (Kim and Yum 2012a, b). Numerical study (Kim and Yum
2012b) showed that, before fog formation, the source of turbulence was identified to be wind
shear that drives turbulent heat and moisture exchange near the surface. Once fog has formed,
the buoyancy flux induced by radiative cooling at the fog top destabilises the fog layer and
mixing within the fog layer produces a neutrally stratified layer. Those authors also showed
a negative water vapour flux at the fog top and believed this probably to be due to mixing of
relatively moister but unsaturated air from above the fog top with relatively drier but saturated
air in the fog layer. Turbulent cooling is more than compensated by warm advection, while
the moisture advection more than compensates for turbulent drying. In this sense, additional
radiative cooling is critical to successful fog formation (Kim and Yum 2012a).
There are three transportation mechanisms associated with this advection fog: (1) the
surface-layer vapour was delivered to the lower fog layer, (2) the low-altitude south-east
low-level jet brought the vapour to the upper layer and (3) the vapour was transported to the
lower layers via turbulent exchange and vertical air motion, which averaged the fog density
and maintained the thickness of the fog. This pattern explains why the fog top was higher
than the lower inversion layer and reached the upper inversion layer and also explains the
thickness of the advection fog.
Based on this analysis, the low-altitude south-east low-level jet transported a large amount
of vapour to the fog region. The vertical movement and turbulence of the air near the low-
level jet region promoted vertical exchange of momentum, heat and vapour, which mixed the
upper and lower fog layers into a thick fog layer.

5 Conclusions

Advection fog observations are relatively rare around the world, with even fewer systematic
rawinsonde observations of the entire boundary layer. The real physical processes of fog
formation and dissipation are complex and affected by a large variety of poorly understood
factors. In this paper, an advection fog case is presented based on fog boundary-layer struc-
tures. An apparently novel feature of this case was a ‘double-inversion’ structure. In inland
areas, a fog formation mechanism with mutual influence by cold advection and warm moist
advection is also very rare.
A weak high-pressure centre constantly remained in the Jiangsu and Anhui region, creating
a stable layer structure near the surface and promoting fog formation and preservation. At
925 hPa, north-east warm advection was observed, whereas a cold eastern current was seen
close to the surface. The interaction between the cold advection of the lower layer and the
warm humid advection at 925 hPa created this advection fog process.
Using the fog boundary-layer observations collected by a moored balloon between 1 and
2 December 2009, the processes of advection fog formation and dissipation under cold and
warm double-advection conditions were studied. The boundary layer was observed via a
DigiCORA moored-balloon low-altitude detection system, and a total of 15 datasets were

123
A Study of the Physical Processes… 137

collected between 1100 LST on December 1 and 1400 LST on December 2. Based on these
analyses, the following conclusions can be drawn:

(1) The advection fog process was generated by interaction between the near-surface north-
east cold advection and the upper layer’s south-east warm, humid advection. Ground
fog formed in an advection cooling process, and the thick fog disappeared in 2 h when
the wind shifted from the north-east to the north-west. The top of the fog layer remained
over 600 m for most of the time, and the period with visibility below 100 m lasted
approximately 12 h.
(2) This advection fog featured a double-inversion structure. The interaction between the
south-east warm, humid advection of the upper layer and the descending current gen-
erated the upper inversion layer, leading to the formation of upper-layer clouds. The
north-east cold advection near the ground and the warm, humid advection in the high-
altitude layer formed the lower-layer clouds and lower inversion layer. The two cloud
layers joined together, reached the ground surface, and formed a thick fog layer. The
upper inversion layer was composed of south-east warm, humid advection and a descend-
ing current with increasing temperature. The double inversion provided good thermal
conditions for maintaining the thick fog layer.
(3) The south-east wind of the upper layer not only created the upper inversion layer but also
brought vapour-rich air to the fog region. The steady south-east vapour transportation by
the south-east wind was the main condition that maintained the fog thickness, homoge-
neous density and long duration. The near-surface north-east cold advection continued
the lower-level air temperature decrease. The low-level jet beneath the lower inversion
layer helped maintain the thickness and uniform density of the fog layer by enhancing
exchange of heat, momentum and vapour within the lower inversion layer.
(4) There were three transportation mechanisms associated with this advection fog: (1) the
surface layer vapour was delivered to the lower fog layer, (2) the low-altitude south-east
low-level jet transported the vapour to the upper layer and (3) vapour was exchanged
between the upper and lower layers via turbulent exchange and vertical air motion, which
mixed the fog density and maintained the thickness of the fog. These mechanisms explain
why the fog top was higher than the lower inversion layer and reached the upper inversion
layer, as well as why this advection fog was so thick.

Acknowledgments Funding for this work was jointly provided by the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu
Province (grant no. BK20130111), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 41275151)
and the Key Projects of Jiangsu Meteorological Bureau (grant no. KZ201405).

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