Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marine Layer

A marine layer is an air mass which develops over the surface of a large body of water such as the ocean or large lake in the presence of a temperature inversion. The inversion itself is usually initiated by the cooling effect of the water on the surface layer of an otherwise warm air mass. As it cools, the surface air becomes denser than the warmer air above it, and thus becomes trapped below it. The layer may thicken through turbulence generated within the developing marine layer itself. It may also thicken if the warmer air above it is lifted by an approaching area of low pressure. The layer will also gradually increase its humidity by evaporation of the ocean or lake surface, as well as by the effect of cooling itself. Fog will form within a marine layer where the humidity is high enough and cooling sufficient to produce condensation. Stratus and stratocumulus will also form at the top of a marine layer in the presence of the same conditions there.

In the case of coastal California, the offshore marine layer is typically propelled inland by a pressure gradient which develops as a result of intense heating inland, blanketing coastal communities in cooler air which, if saturated, also contains fog. The fog can last until midday when the heat of the sun is frequently strong enough to evaporate it. An approaching frontal system or trough can also drive the marine layer onshore.


  1. That must be an impossible situation for pilots.

  2. Ah, the ubiquitus (sp?) summer friend. That's a great picture - I've tried and tried to get a good one and have yet to. Love the write-up too. (LL, at work they are blocking "social networks" so on some blogs I cannot leave messages - just wanted you to know that I am visiting.)

  3. Hi Bill! Thanks for commenting.

    Hi Tash - I love when it is rolling in over the ocean, and looks like a wall of mountains. Thanks for your continued support.


So nice to hear from you!

Warm regards,
Lori Lynn