Articles | Volume 6, issue 4
Model evaluation paper
04 Jul 2013
Model evaluation paper |  | 04 Jul 2013

Evaluation of dust and trace metal estimates from the Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model version 5.0

K. W. Appel, G. A. Pouliot, H. Simon, G. Sarwar, H. O. T. Pye, S. L. Napelenok, F. Akhtar, and S. J. Roselle

Abstract. The Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model is a state-of-the-science air quality model that simulates the emission, transformation, transport, and fate of the many different air pollutant species that comprise particulate matter (PM), including dust (or soil). The CMAQ model version 5.0 (CMAQv5.0) has several enhancements over the previous version of the model for estimating the emission and transport of dust, including the ability to track the specific elemental constituents of dust and have the model-derived concentrations of those elements participate in chemistry. The latest version of the model also includes a parameterization to estimate emissions of dust due to wind action. The CMAQv5.0 modeling system was used to simulate the entire year 2006 for the continental United States, and the model estimates were evaluated against daily surface-based measurements from several air quality networks. The CMAQ modeling system overall did well replicating the observed soil concentrations in the western United States (mean bias generally around ±0.5 μg m−3); however, the model consistently overestimated the observed soil concentrations in the eastern United States (mean bias generally between 0.5–1.5 μg m−3), regardless of season. The performance of the individual trace metals was highly dependent on the network, species, and season, with relatively small biases for Fe, Al, Si, and Ti throughout the year at the Interagency Monitoring of Protected Visual Environments (IMPROVE) sites, while Ca, K, and Mn were overestimated and Mg underestimated. For the urban Chemical Speciation Network (CSN) sites, Fe, Mg, and Mn, while overestimated, had comparatively better performance throughout the year than the other trace metals, which were consistently overestimated, including very large overestimations of Al (380%), Ti (370%) and Si (470%) in the fall. An underestimation of nighttime mixing in the urban areas appears to contribute to the overestimation of trace metals. Removing the anthropogenic fugitive dust (AFD) emissions and the effects of wind-blown dust (WBD) lowered the model soil concentrations. However, even with both AFD emissions and WBD effects removed, soil concentrations were still often overestimated, suggesting that there are other sources of errors in the modeling system that contribute to the overestimation of soil components. Efforts are underway to improve both the nighttime mixing in urban areas and the spatial and temporal distribution of dust-related emission sources in the emissions inventory.