Articles | Volume 14, issue 4
Research article
20 Feb 2014
Research article |  | 20 Feb 2014

Direct radiative effect of the Russian wildfires and its impact on air temperature and atmospheric dynamics during August 2010

J. C. Péré, B. Bessagnet, M. Mallet, F. Waquet, I. Chiapello, F. Minvielle, V. Pont, and L. Menut

Abstract. In this study, we investigate the shortwave aerosol direct radiative forcing (ADRF) and its feedback on air temperature and atmospheric dynamics during a major fire event that occurred in Russia during August 2010. The methodology is based on an offline coupling between the CHIMERE chemistry-transport and the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) models. First, simulations for the period 5–12 August 2010 have been evaluated by using AERONET (AErosol RObotic NETwork) and satellite measurements of the POLarization and Directionality of the Earth's Reflectance (POLDER) and the Cloud-Aerosol LIdar with Orthogonal Polarization (CALIOP) sensors. During this period, elevated POLDER aerosol optical thickness (AOT) is found over a large part of eastern Europe, with values above 2 (at 550 nm) in the aerosol plume. According to CALIOP observations, particles remain confined to the first five kilometres of the atmospheric layer. Comparisons with satellite measurements show the ability of CHIMERE to reproduce the regional and vertical distribution of aerosols during their transport from the source region. Over Moscow, AERONET measurements indicate an important increase of AOT (340 nm) from 0.7 on 5 August to 2–4 between 6 and 10 August when the aerosol plume was advected over the city. Particles are mainly observed in the fine size mode (radius in the range 0.2–0.4 μm) and are characterized by elevated single-scattering albedo (SSA) (0.95–0.96 between 440 and 1020 nm). Comparisons of simulations with AERONET measurements show that aerosol physical–optical properties (size distribution, AOT, SSA) have been well simulated over Moscow in terms of intensity and/or spectral dependence. Secondly, modelled aerosol optical properties have been used as input in the radiative transfer code of WRF to evaluate their direct radiative impact. Simulations indicate a significant reduction of solar radiation at the ground (up to 80–150 W m−2 in diurnal averages over a large part of eastern Europe due to the presence of the aerosol plume. This ADRF causes an important reduction of the near-surface air temperature between 0.2 and 2.6° on a regional scale. Moscow has been affected by the aerosol plume, especially between 6 and 10 August. During this period, aerosol causes a significant reduction of surface shortwave radiation (up to 70–84 W m−2 in diurnal averages) with a moderate part (20–30%) due to solar absorption within the aerosol layer. The resulting feedbacks lead to a cooling of the air up to 1.6° at the surface and 0.1° at an altitude of 1500–2000 m (in diurnal averages), that contribute to stabilize the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL). Indeed, a reduction of the ABL height of 13 to 65% has been simulated during daytime in presence of aerosols. This decrease is the result of a lower air entrainment as the vertical wind speed in the ABL is shown to be reduced by 5 to 80% (at midday) when the feedback of the ADRF is taken into account. However, the ADRF is shown to have a lower impact on the horizontal wind speed, suggesting that the dilution of particles would be mainly affected by the weakening of the ABL development and associated vertical entrainment. Indeed, CHIMERE simulations driven by the WRF meteorological fields including this ADRF feedback result in a large increase in the modelled near-surface PM10 concentrations (up to 99%). This is due to their lower vertical dilution in the ABL, which tend to reduce model biases with the ground PM10 values observed over Moscow during this specific period.

Final-revised paper