Articles | Volume 10, issue 11
Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 3941–3962, 2017
Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 3941–3962, 2017

Model evaluation paper 01 Nov 2017

Model evaluation paper | 01 Nov 2017

A description and evaluation of an air quality model nested within global and regional composition-climate models using MetUM

Lucy S. Neal1, Mohit Dalvi2, Gerd Folberth2, Rachel N. McInnes2,3, Paul Agnew1, Fiona M. O'Connor2, Nicholas H. Savage1, and Marie Tilbee1 Lucy S. Neal et al.
  • 1Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 2Met Office Hadley Centre, FitzRoy Road, Exeter, EX1 3PB, UK
  • 3European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School, Knowledge Spa, Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro, TR1 3HD, UK

Abstract. There is a clear need for the development of modelling frameworks for both climate change and air quality to help inform policies for addressing these issues simultaneously. This paper presents an initial attempt to develop a single modelling framework, by introducing a greater degree of consistency in the meteorological modelling framework by using a two-step, one-way nested configuration of models, from a global composition-climate model (GCCM) (140 km resolution) to a regional composition-climate model covering Europe (RCCM) (50 km resolution) and finally to a high (12 km) resolution model over the UK (AQUM). The latter model is used to produce routine air quality forecasts for the UK. All three models are based on the Met Office's Unified Model (MetUM). In order to better understand the impact of resolution on the downscaling of projections of future climate and air quality, we have used this nest of models to simulate a 5-year period using present-day emissions and under present-day climate conditions. We also consider the impact of running the higher-resolution model with higher spatial resolution emissions, rather than simply regridding emissions from the RCCM. We present an evaluation of the models compared to in situ air quality observations over the UK, plus a comparison against an independent 1 km resolution gridded dataset, derived from a combination of modelling and observations, effectively producing an analysis of annual mean surface pollutant concentrations. We show that using a high-resolution model over the UK has some benefits in improving air quality modelling, but that the use of higher spatial resolution emissions is important to capture local variations in concentrations, particularly for primary pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide. For secondary pollutants such as ozone and the secondary component of PM10, the benefits of a higher-resolution nested model are more limited and reasons for this are discussed. This study highlights the point that the resolution of models is not the only factor in determining model performance – consistency between nested models is also important.

Short summary
This paper concerns aspects of downscaling global atmospheric composition and chemistry model predictions on the continental and UK national scale. A two-step nested model configuration was developed and used to simulate UK air quality for a 5-year period under present-day conditions. The results show some benefits associated with higher-resolution modelling for primary emitted pollutants, but also highlight the importance of consistency between the nested models.