Articles | Volume 14, issue 20
Research article
24 Oct 2014
Research article |  | 24 Oct 2014

Aerosol indirect effect on the grid-scale clouds in the two-way coupled WRF–CMAQ: model description, development, evaluation and regional analysis

S. Yu, R. Mathur, J. Pleim, D. Wong, R. Gilliam, K. Alapaty, C. Zhao, and X. Liu

Abstract. This study implemented first, second and glaciation aerosol indirect effects (AIE) on resolved clouds in the two-way coupled Weather Research and Forecasting Community Multiscale Air Quality (WRF–CMAQ) modeling system by including parameterizations for both cloud drop and ice number concentrations on the basis of CMAQ-predicted aerosol distributions and WRF meteorological conditions. The performance of the newly developed WRF–CMAQ model, with alternate Community Atmospheric Model (CAM) and Rapid Radiative Transfer Model for GCMs (RRTMG) radiation schemes, was evaluated with observations from the Clouds and the See Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) satellite and surface monitoring networks (AQS, IMPROVE, CASTNET, STN, and PRISM) over the continental US (CONUS) (12 km resolution) and eastern Texas (4 km resolution) during August and September of 2006. The results at the Air Quality System (AQS) surface sites show that in August, the normalized mean bias (NMB) values for PM2.5 over the eastern US (EUS) and the western US (WUS) are 5.3% (−0.1%) and 0.4% (−5.2%) for WRF–CMAQ/CAM (WRF–CMAQ/RRTMG), respectively. The evaluation of PM2.5 chemical composition reveals that in August, WRF–CMAQ/CAM (WRF–CMAQ/RRTMG) consistently underestimated the observed SO42- by −23.0% (−27.7%), −12.5% (−18.9%) and −7.9% (−14.8%) over the EUS at the Clean Air Status Trends Network (CASTNET), Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) and Speciated Trends Network (STN) sites, respectively. Both configurations (WRF–CMAQ/CAM, WRF–CMAQ/RRTMG) overestimated the observed mean organic carbon (OC), elemental carbon (EC) and and total carbon (TC) concentrations over the EUS in August at the IMPROVE sites. Both configurations generally underestimated the cloud field (shortwave cloud forcing, SWCF) over the CONUS in August due to the fact that the AIE on the subgrid convective clouds was not considered when the model simulations were run at the 12 km resolution. This is in agreement with the fact that both configurations captured SWCF and longwave cloud forcing (LWCF) very well for the 4 km simulation over eastern Texas, when all clouds were resolved by the finer resolution domain. The simulations of WRF–CMAQ/CAM and WRF–CMAQ/RRTMG show dramatic improvements for SWCF, LWCF, cloud optical depth (COD), cloud fractions and precipitation over the ocean relative to those of WRF default cases in August. The model performance in September is similar to that in August, except for a greater overestimation of PM2.5 due to the overestimations of SO42-, NH4+, NO3-, and TC over the EUS, less underestimation of clouds (SWCF) over the land areas due to the lower SWCF values, and fewer convective clouds in September. This work shows that inclusion of indirect aerosol effect treatments in WRF–CMAQ represents a significant advancement and milestone in air quality modeling and the development of integrated emissions control strategies for air quality management and climate change mitigation.

Final-revised paper