Articles | Volume 16, issue 10
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 6041–6070, 2016
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 16, 6041–6070, 2016
Research article
18 May 2016
Research article | 18 May 2016

Evaluation of the performance of four chemical transport models in predicting the aerosol chemical composition in Europe in 2005

Marje Prank1, Mikhail Sofiev1, Svetlana Tsyro2, Carlijn Hendriks3, Valiyaveetil Semeena2, Xavier Vazhappilly Francis4, Tim Butler5, Hugo Denier van der Gon3, Rainer Friedrich6, Johannes Hendricks7, Xin Kong4, Mark Lawrence5, Mattia Righi7, Zissis Samaras8, Robert Sausen7, Jaakko Kukkonen1, and Ranjeet Sokhi4 Marje Prank et al.
  • 1Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, 00560, Finland
  • 2MET Norway, Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway
  • 3TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 4Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation Research (CAIR), University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
  • 5Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany
  • 6IER, University of Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 7Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
  • 8Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

Abstract. Four regional chemistry transport models were applied to simulate the concentration and composition of particulate matter (PM) in Europe for 2005 with horizontal resolution  ∼  20 km. The modelled concentrations were compared with the measurements of PM chemical composition by the European Monitoring and Evaluation Programme (EMEP) monitoring network. All models systematically underestimated PM10 and PM2.5 by 10–60 %, depending on the model and the season of the year, when the calculated dry PM mass was compared with the measurements. The average water content at laboratory conditions was estimated between 5 and 20 % for PM2.5 and between 10 and 25 % for PM10. For majority of the PM chemical components, the relative underestimation was smaller than it was for total PM, exceptions being the carbonaceous particles and mineral dust. Some species, such as sea salt and NO3, were overpredicted by the models. There were notable differences between the models' predictions of the seasonal variations of PM, mainly attributable to different treatments or omission of some source categories and aerosol processes. Benzo(a)pyrene concentrations were overestimated by all the models over the whole year. The study stresses the importance of improving the models' skill in simulating mineral dust and carbonaceous compounds, necessity for high-quality emissions from wildland fires, as well as the need for an explicit consideration of aerosol water content in model–measurement comparison.

Short summary
Aerosol composition in Europe was simulated by four chemistry transport models and compared to observations to identify the most prominent areas for model improvement. Notable differences were found between the models' predictions, attributable to different treatment or omission of aerosol sources and processes. All models underestimated the observed concentrations by 10–60 %, mostly due to under-predicting the carbonaceous and mineral particles and omitting the aerosol-bound water.
Final-revised paper