Articles | Volume 14, issue 2
Research article
21 Jan 2014
Research article |  | 21 Jan 2014

Comparing ECMWF AOD with AERONET observations at visible and UV wavelengths

V. Cesnulyte, A. V. Lindfors, M. R. A. Pitkänen, K. E. J. Lehtinen, J.-J. Morcrette, and A. Arola

Abstract. This paper presents validation results of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) Integrated Forecasting System MACC (Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate) re-analysis aerosol optical depth (AOD) for the period 2003–2006. We evaluate the MACC AOD at a UV wavelength (340 nm) and at mid-visible (500 and 550 nm) by comparing against ground-based AERONET measurements at 12 sites. The AERONET sites cover various parts of the globe and are categorized in three groups: urban/anthropogenic, biomass burning and dust, depending on the typically dominating aerosol type. This is the first time a global model such as the ECMWF has been evaluated for the performance of AOD at a UV wavelength. The results show that the MACC system generally provides a good representation of the AOD on a monthly basis, showing a realistic seasonal cycle. The model is mostly able to capture major dust load events and also the peak months of biomass burning correctly. For Kanpur and Solar Village, however, the model overestimates the AOD during the monsoon period when the aerosol load is generally low. When comparing hourly AOD values, the model–measurement agreement is better for biomass burning and dust sites than for urban sites, with an average correlation coefficient around 0.90 for biomass burning sites, around 0.77 for dust sites, and below 0.70 for urban sites. The AOD at 500 nm averaged over all sites shows only a small systematic difference between modeled and measured values, with a relative mean bias of 0.02. However, for the AOD at 340 nm the relative mean bias is −0.2. All sites included in the study show a relative mean bias at 340 nm smaller (or more negative) than that at 500 nm, indicating a strong wavelength dependence in the performance of the AOD in the MACC system. A comparison against fine and coarse mode AOD of the AERONET indicates that this has to do with the size distribution of the model: generally, the ECMWF model overestimates the contribution by coarse mode particles.

Final-revised paper