Articles | Volume 16, issue 5
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3127–3144, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 3127–3144, 2016

Research article 09 Mar 2016

Research article | 09 Mar 2016

The impact of observation nudging on simulated meteorology and ozone concentrations during DISCOVER-AQ 2013 Texas campaign

Xiangshang Li1, Yunsoo Choi1, Beata Czader1, Anirban Roy1, Hyuncheol Kim2,3, Barry Lefer1, and Shuai Pan1 Xiangshang Li et al.
  • 1Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Houston, Houston, TX, 77204, USA
  • 2NOAA Air Resources Laboratory, College Park, MD 20740, USA
  • 3University of Maryland, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellite, College Park, MD, USA

Abstract. Accurate meteorological fields are imperative for correct chemical transport modeling. Observation nudging, along with objective analysis, is generally considered a low-cost and effective technique to improve meteorological simulations. However, the meteorological impact of observation nudging on chemistry has not been well characterized. This study involved two simulations to analyze the impact of observation nudging on simulated meteorology and ozone concentrations during the 2013 Deriving Information on Surface conditions from Column and Vertically Resolved Observations Relevant to Air Quality (DISCOVER-AQ) Texas campaign period, using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) models. The results showed improved correlations between observed and simulated parameters. For example, the index of agreement (IOA) improved by about 9 % for surface temperature and 6–11 % for surface zonal (U-WIND) and meridional (V-WIND) winds when observation nudging was employed. Analysis of a cold front event indicated that nudging improved the timing of wind transition during the front passage. Observation nudging also reduced the model biases for the planetary boundary layer height predictions. Additionally, the IOA for CMAQ simulated surface ozone improved by 6 % during the simulation period. The high-ozone episode on 25 September was a post-front ozone event in Houston. The small-scale morning wind shifts near the Houston Ship Channel combined with higher aloft ozone early morning likely caused the day's ozone exceedance. While observation nudging did not recreate the wind shifts on that day and failed to reproduce the observed high ozone, analyses of surface and aircraft data found that observation nudging helped the model yield improved ozone predictions. In a 2 h period during the event, substantially better winds in the sensitivity case noticeably improved the ozone. The average IOA for ozone in the period increased from just over 0.4 to near 0.7. Further work on improving the capability of nudging to reproduce local meteorological events such as stagnations and wind reversals could enhance a chemical transport model's skill for predicting high-ozone events.

Short summary
We performed a a month-long sensitivity study of obs-nudging on meteorology and ozone chemistry. Notable increases in temperature and wind performance were observed after obs-nudging with hourly nudging files. PBL height also matched better in the sensitivity case. The model ozone improved at ground level and aloft but to a lesser degree. An examination of a high ozone episode showed that the current nudging process does not perform consistently – quite well at times while poor at other times.
Final-revised paper