Articles | Volume 10, issue 10
Development and technical paper
09 Oct 2017
Development and technical paper |  | 09 Oct 2017

Improvements to the WRF-Chem 3.5.1 model for quasi-hemispheric simulations of aerosols and ozone in the Arctic

Louis Marelle, Jean-Christophe Raut, Kathy S. Law, Larry K. Berg, Jerome D. Fast, Richard C. Easter, Manish Shrivastava, and Jennie L. Thomas

Abstract. In this study, the WRF-Chem regional model is updated to improve simulated short-lived pollutants (e.g., aerosols, ozone) in the Arctic. Specifically, we include in WRF-Chem 3.5.1 (with SAPRC-99 gas-phase chemistry and MOSAIC aerosols) (1) a correction to the sedimentation of aerosols, (2) dimethyl sulfide (DMS) oceanic emissions and gas-phase chemistry, (3) an improved representation of the dry deposition of trace gases over seasonal snow, and (4) an UV-albedo dependence on snow and ice cover for photolysis calculations. We also (5) correct the representation of surface temperatures over melting ice in the Noah Land Surface Model and (6) couple and further test the recent KF-CuP (Kain–Fritsch + Cumulus Potential) cumulus parameterization that includes the effect of cumulus clouds on aerosols and trace gases. The updated model is used to perform quasi-hemispheric simulations of aerosols and ozone, which are evaluated against surface measurements of black carbon (BC), sulfate, and ozone as well as airborne measurements of BC in the Arctic. The updated model shows significant improvements in terms of seasonal aerosol cycles at the surface and root mean square errors (RMSEs) for surface ozone, aerosols, and BC aloft, compared to the base version of the model and to previous large-scale evaluations of WRF-Chem in the Arctic. These improvements are mostly due to the inclusion of cumulus effects on aerosols and trace gases in KF-CuP (improved RMSE for surface BC and BC profiles, surface sulfate, and surface ozone), the improved surface temperatures over sea ice (surface ozone, BC, and sulfate), and the updated trace gas deposition and UV albedo over snow and ice (improved RMSE and correlation for surface ozone). DMS emissions and chemistry improve surface sulfate at all Arctic sites except Zeppelin, and correcting aerosol sedimentation has little influence on aerosols except in the upper troposphere.

Short summary
We develop the WRF-Chem 3.5.1 model to improve simulations of aerosols and ozone in the Arctic. Both species are important air pollutants and climate forcers, but models often struggle to reproduce observations in the Arctic. Our developments concern pollutant emissions, mixing, chemistry, and removal, including processes related to snow and sea ice. The effect of these changes are quantitatively validated against observations, showing significant improvements compared to the original model.