Articles | Volume 14, issue 8
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3899–3912, 2014
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 3899–3912, 2014

Research article 17 Apr 2014

Research article | 17 Apr 2014

Representing ozone extremes in European megacities: the importance of resolution in a global chemistry climate model

Z. S. Stock1, M. R. Russo1,2, and J. A. Pyle1,2 Z. S. Stock et al.
  • 1Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, CB2 1EW, UK
  • 2National Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, CB2 1EW, UK

Abstract. The continuing growth of the world's urban population has led to an increasing number of cities with more than 10 million inhabitants. The higher emissions of pollutants, coupled to higher population density, makes predictions of air quality in these megacities of particular importance from both a science and a policy perspective. Global climate models are typically run at coarse resolution to enable both the efficient running of long time integrations, and the ability to run multiple future climate scenarios. However, when considering surface ozone concentrations at the local scale, coarse resolution can lead to inaccuracies arising from the highly nonlinear ozone chemistry and the sensitivity of ozone to the distribution of its precursors on smaller scales. In this study, we use UM-UKCA, a global atmospheric chemistry model, coupled to the UK Met Office Unified Model, to investigate the impact of model resolution on tropospheric ozone, ranging from global to local scales. We focus on the model's ability to represent the probability of high ozone concentrations in the summer and low ozone concentrations, associated with polluted megacity environments, in the winter, and how this varies with horizontal resolution.

We perform time-slice integrations with two model configurations at typical climate resolution (CR, ~150 km) and at a higher resolution (HR, ~40 km). The CR configuration leads to overestimation of ozone concentrations on both regional and local scales, while it gives broadly similar results to the HR configuration on the global scale. The HR configuration is found to produce a more realistic diurnal cycle of ozone concentrations and to give a better representation of the probability density function of ozone values in urban areas such as the megacities of London and Paris. We find the observed differences in model behaviour between CR and HR configurations to be largely caused by chemical differences during the winter and meteorological differences during the summer.

Final-revised paper