Articles | Volume 15, issue 1
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 153–172, 2015
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 15, 153–172, 2015

Research article 09 Jan 2015

Research article | 09 Jan 2015

Global and regional modeling of clouds and aerosols in the marine boundary layer during VOCALS: the VOCA intercomparison

M. C. Wyant1, C. S. Bretherton1, R. Wood1, G. R. Carmichael2, A. Clarke3, J. Fast4, R. George1, W. I. Gustafson Jr.4, C. Hannay5, A. Lauer6,*, Y. Lin7,**, J.-J. Morcrette8, J. Mulcahy9, P. E. Saide2, S. N. Spak2, and Q. Yang4 M. C. Wyant et al.
  • 1Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
  • 2Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA
  • 3School of Ocean and Earth Science Technology (SOEST), University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA
  • 4Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
  • 5National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
  • 6International Pacific Research Center, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, USA
  • 7Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 8European Center for Medium-Range Forecasts, Shinfield Park, Reading, UK
  • 9Met Office, Exeter, UK
  • *now at: Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany
  • **now at: Ministry of Education Key Laboratory for Earth System Modeling, Center of Earth System Sciences, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Abstract. A diverse collection of models are used to simulate the marine boundary layer in the southeast Pacific region during the period of the October–November 2008 VOCALS REx (VAMOS Ocean Cloud Atmosphere Land Study Regional Experiment) field campaign. Regional models simulate the period continuously in boundary-forced free-running mode, while global forecast models and GCMs (general circulation models) are run in forecast mode. The models are compared to extensive observations along a line at 20° S extending westward from the South American coast. Most of the models simulate cloud and aerosol characteristics and gradients across the region that are recognizably similar to observations, despite the complex interaction of processes involved in the problem, many of which are parameterized or poorly resolved. Some models simulate the regional low cloud cover well, though many models underestimate MBL (marine boundary layer) depth near the coast. Most models qualitatively simulate the observed offshore gradients of SO2, sulfate aerosol, CCN (cloud condensation nuclei) concentration in the MBL as well as differences in concentration between the MBL and the free troposphere. Most models also qualitatively capture the decrease in cloud droplet number away from the coast. However, there are large quantitative intermodel differences in both means and gradients of these quantities. Many models are able to represent episodic offshore increases in cloud droplet number and aerosol concentrations associated with periods of offshore flow. Most models underestimate CCN (at 0.1% supersaturation) in the MBL and free troposphere. The GCMs also have difficulty simulating coastal gradients in CCN and cloud droplet number concentration near the coast. The overall performance of the models demonstrates their potential utility in simulating aerosol–cloud interactions in the MBL, though quantitative estimation of aerosol–cloud interactions and aerosol indirect effects of MBL clouds with these models remains uncertain.

Short summary
Simulations from a group of GCMs, forecast models, and regional models are compared with aircraft and ship observations of the marine boundary layer (MBL) in the southeast Pacific region during the VOCALS-REx field campaign of October-November 2008. Gradients of cloud, aerosol, and chemical properties in and above the MBL extending from the Peruvian coast westward along 20 degrees south are compared during the period.
Final-revised paper