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WeatherTalk: The boundary layer is the lowest layer of the atmosphere

It is not unusual for the air temperature within the boundary layer to be quite different from the air above.

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There is a layer of air from the ground up to a few hundred feet called the planetary boundary layer. The boundary layer is the lowest layer of the atmosphere and is heated by the convection of heat from the ground after the ground is heated by radiation from the sun. It is not unusual for the air temperature within the boundary layer to be quite different from the air above.

During winter, the presence of snow cover greatly reduces the amount of radiation received on the ground, which then greatly reduces the convection process. This is why the introduction of snow cover suddenly makes our weather colder. Even when our weather warms up from a warm front, the warming is usually tempered. This is how winter precipitation can sometimes fall as freezing rain when a warm layer of air is located above a subfreezing boundary layer.

Related Topics: WEATHERWEATHERTALK
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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