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

The role of horizontal model resolution in assessing the transport of CO in a middle latitude cyclone using WRF-Chem

C. A. Klich and H. E. Fuelberg

Abstract. We use the Weather Research and Forecasting with Chemistry (WRF-Chem) online chemical transport model to simulate a middle latitude cyclone in East Asia at three different horizontal resolutions (45, 15, and 5 km grid spacing). The cyclone contains a typical warm conveyor belt (WCB) with an embedded squall line that passes through an area having large surface concentrations (> 400 ppbv) of carbon monoxide (CO). Model output from WRF-Chem is used to compare differences between the large-scale CO vertical transport by the WCB (the 45 km simulation) with the smaller-scale transport due to its convection (the 5 km simulation). Forward trajectories are calculated from WRF-Chem output using the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model. At 45 km grid spacing, the WCB exhibits gradual ascent, lofting surface CO to 6–7 km. Upon reaching the warm front, the WCB and associated CO ascend more rapidly and later turn eastward over the Pacific Ocean. Convective transport at 5 km resolution with explicitly resolved convection occurs much more rapidly, with surface CO lofted to altitudes greater than 10 km in 1 h or less. We also compute CO vertical mass fluxes over specified areas and times to compare differences in transport due to the different grid spacings. Upward CO flux exceeds 110 000 t h−1 in the domain with explicit convection when the squall line is at peak intensity, while fluxes from the two coarser resolutions are an order of magnitude smaller. Specific areas of interest within the 5 km domain are defined to compare the magnitude of convective transport to that within the entire 5 km region. Although convection encompasses only a small portion of the 5 km domain, it is responsible for ~40% of the upward CO transport. We also examine the vertical transport due to a short wave trough and its associated area of convection, not related to the cyclone, that lofts CO to the upper troposphere. Results indicate that fine-scale resolution with explicitly resolved convection is important when assessing the vertical transport of surface emissions in areas of deep convection.

Final-revised paper