Articles | Volume 10, issue 6
24 Mar 2010
 | 24 Mar 2010

Effects of resolution on the relative importance of numerical and physical horizontal diffusion in atmospheric composition modelling

M. D'Isidoro, A. Maurizi, and F. Tampieri

Abstract. Numerical diffusion induced by advection has a large influence on concentration of substances in atmospheric composition models. At coarse resolution numerical effects dominate, whereas at increasing model resolution a description of physical diffusion is needed. A method to investigate the effects of changing resolution and Courant number is defined here and is applied to the WAF advection scheme (used in BOLCHEM), evidencing a sub-diffusive process. The spread rate from an instantaneous source caused by numerical diffusion is compared to that produced by the physical diffusion necessary to simulate unresolved turbulent motions. The time at which the physical diffusion process overpowers the numerical spread is estimated, and it is shown to reduce as the resolution increases, and to increase with wind velocity.

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