Evaluating the representation of aerosol optical properties using an online coupled model over the Iberian Peninsula
Abstract. The effects of atmospheric aerosol particles on the Earth's climate mainly depend on their optical, microphysical and chemical properties, which modify the Earth's radiative budget. The aerosol radiative effects can be divided into direct and semi-direct effects, produced by the aerosol–radiation interactions (ARIs), and indirect effects, produced by aerosol–cloud interactions (ACIs). In this sense the objective of this work is to assess whether the inclusion of aerosol radiative feedbacks in the online coupled WRF-Chem model improves the modelling outputs over the Iberian Peninsula (IP) and surrounding water areas. For this purpose, the methodology is based on the evaluation of modelled aerosol optical properties under different simulation scenarios. The evaluated data come from two WRF-Chem simulations for the IP differing in the inclusion/no-inclusion of ARIs and ACIs (RF/NRF simulations). The case studies cover two episodes with different aerosol types over the IP in 2010, namely a Saharan dust outbreak and a forest fire episode. The evaluation uses observational data from AERONET (Aerosol Robotic Network) stations and MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) sensor, including aerosol optical depth (AOD) and Ångström exponent (AE). Experimental data of aerosol vertical distribution from the EARLINET (European Aerosol Research Lidar Network) Granada station are used for checking the models. The results indicate that for the spatial distribution the best-represented variable is AOD and the largest improvements when including the aerosol radiative feedbacks are found for the vertical distribution. In the case of the dust outbreak, a slight improvement (worsening) is produced over the areas with medium (high/low) levels of AOD(−9 % / +12 % of improvement) when including the aerosol radiative feedbacks. For the wildfire episode, improvements of AOD representation (up to 11 %) over areas further away from emission sources are estimated, which compensates for the computational effort of including aerosol feedbacks in the simulations. No clear improvement is observed for the AE representation, the variability of which is largely underpredicted by both simulations.