An economical and easy-to-implement technique is outlined by which the mean nocturnal atmospheric mixing state (“stability”) can be assessed over a broad (city-scale) heterogeneous region solely based on near-surface (2 m above ground level [a.g.l.]) observations of the passive tracer radon-222. The results presented here are mainly based on summer data of hourly meteorological and radon observations near Łodź, Central Poland, from 4 years (2008–2011). Behaviour of the near-surface wind speed and vertical temperature gradient (the primary controls of the nocturnal atmospheric mixing state), as well as the urban heat island intensity, are investigated within each of the four radon-based nocturnal stability categories derived for this study (least stable, weakly stable, moderately stable, and stable). On average, the most (least) stable nights were characterized by vertical temperature gradient of 1.1 (0.5)°C·m−1, wind speed of ~0.4 (~1.0) m·s−1, and urban heat island intensity of 4.5 (0.5)°C. For sites more than 20 km inland from the coast, where soils are not completely saturated or frozen, radon-based nocturnal stability classification can significantly enhance and simplify a range of environmental research applications (e.g. urban climate studies, urban pollution studies, regulatory dispersion modelling, and evaluating the performance of regional climate and pollution models).
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