Articles | Volume 17, issue 4
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 3001–3054, 2017

Special issue: Global and regional assessment of intercontinental transport...

Atmos. Chem. Phys., 17, 3001–3054, 2017

Research article 28 Feb 2017

Research article | 28 Feb 2017

Evaluation and error apportionment of an ensemble of atmospheric chemistry transport modeling systems: multivariable temporal and spatial breakdown

Efisio Solazzo1, Roberto Bianconi2, Christian Hogrefe3, Gabriele Curci4,5, Paolo Tuccella5, Ummugulsum Alyuz6, Alessandra Balzarini7, Rocío Baró8, Roberto Bellasio2, Johannes Bieser9, Jørgen Brandt10, Jesper H. Christensen10, Augistin Colette11, Xavier Francis12, Andrea Fraser13, Marta Garcia Vivanco11,14, Pedro Jiménez-Guerrero8, Ulas Im10, Astrid Manders15, Uarporn Nopmongcol16, Nutthida Kitwiroon17, Guido Pirovano7, Luca Pozzoli6,1, Marje Prank18, Ranjeet S. Sokhi12, Alper Unal6, Greg Yarwood16, and Stefano Galmarini1 Efisio Solazzo et al.
  • 1European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Directorate for Energy, Transport and Climate, Air and Climate Unit, Ispra (VA), Italy
  • 2Enviroware srl, Concorezzo, MB, Italy
  • 3Environmental Protection Agency, Computational Exposure Division, National Exposure Research Laboratory, Office of Research and Development, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, USA
  • 4CETEMPS, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy
  • 5Dept. Physical and Chemical Sciences, University of L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy
  • 6Eurasia Institute of Earth Sciences, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey
  • 7Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico (RSE SpA), Milan, Italy
  • 8University of Murcia, Department of Physics, Physics of the Earth, Campus de Espinardo, Ed. CIOyN, 30100 Murcia, Spain
  • 9Institute of Coastal Research, Chemistry Transport Modelling Group, Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, Germany
  • 10Aarhus University, Department of Environmental Science, Frederiksborgvej 399, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark
  • 11INERIS, Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques, Parc Alata, 60550 Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
  • 12Centre for Atmospheric and Instrumentation Research (CAIR), University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
  • 13Ricardo Energy & Environment, Gemini Building, Fermi Avenue, Harwell, Oxon, OX11 0QR, UK
  • 14CIEMAT. Avda. Complutense 40., 28040 Madrid, Spain
  • 15Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 16Ramboll Environ, 773 San Marin Drive, Suite 2115, Novato, CA 94998, USA
  • 17Environmental Research Group, Kings' College London, London, UK
  • 18Finnish Meteorological Institute, Atmospheric Composition Research Unit, Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Through the comparison of several regional-scale chemistry transport modeling systems that simulate meteorology and air quality over the European and North American continents, this study aims at (i) apportioning error to the responsible processes using timescale analysis, (ii)  helping to detect causes of model error, and (iii) identifying the processes and temporal scales most urgently requiring dedicated investigations.

The analysis is conducted within the framework of the third phase of the Air Quality Model Evaluation International Initiative (AQMEII) and tackles model performance gauging through measurement-to-model comparison, error decomposition, and time series analysis of the models biases for several fields (ozone, CO, SO2, NO, NO2, PM10, PM2. 5, wind speed, and temperature). The operational metrics (magnitude of the error, sign of the bias, associativity) provide an overall sense of model strengths and deficiencies, while apportioning the error to its constituent parts (bias, variance, and covariance) can help assess the nature and quality of the error. Each of the error components is analyzed independently and apportioned to specific processes based on the corresponding timescale (long scale, synoptic, diurnal, and intraday) using the error apportionment technique devised in the former phases of AQMEII.

The application of the error apportionment method to the AQMEII Phase 3 simulations provides several key insights. In addition to reaffirming the strong impact of model inputs (emission and boundary conditions) and poor representation of the stable boundary layer on model bias, results also highlighted the high interdependencies among meteorological and chemical variables, as well as among their errors. This indicates that the evaluation of air quality model performance for individual pollutants needs to be supported by complementary analysis of meteorological fields and chemical precursors to provide results that are more insightful from a model development perspective. This will require evaluation methods that are able to frame the impact on error of processes, conditions, and fluxes at the surface. For example, error due to emission and boundary conditions is dominant for primary species (CO, particulate matter (PM)), while errors due to meteorology and chemistry are most relevant to secondary species, such as ozone. Some further aspects emerged whose interpretation requires additional consideration, such as the uniformity of the synoptic error being region- and model-independent, observed for several pollutants; the source of unexplained variance for the diurnal component; and the type of error caused by deposition and at which scale.

Short summary
As part of the third phase of AQMEII, this study uses timescale analysis to apportion error to the responsible processes, detect causes of model error, and identify the processes and scales that require dedicated investigations. The analysis tackles model performance gauging through measurement-to-model comparison, error decomposition, and time series analysis of model biases for ozone, CO, SO2, NO, NO2, PM10, PM2.5, wind speed, and temperature over Europe and North America.
Final-revised paper