Trans-Pacific transport and evolution of aerosols: evaluation of quasi-global WRF-Chem simulation with multiple observations
Abstract. A fully coupled meteorology-chemistry model (WRF-Chem, the Weather Research and Forecasting model coupled with chemistry) has been configured to conduct quasi-global simulation for 5 years (2010–2014) and evaluated with multiple observation data sets for the first time. The evaluation focuses on the simulation over the trans-Pacific transport region using various reanalysis and observational data sets for meteorological fields and aerosol properties. The simulation generally captures the overall spatial and seasonal variability of satellite retrieved aerosol optical depth (AOD) and absorbing AOD (AAOD) over the Pacific that is determined by the outflow of pollutants and dust and the emissions of marine aerosols. The assessment of simulated extinction Ångström exponent (EAE) indicates that the model generally reproduces the variability of aerosol size distributions as seen by satellites. In addition, the vertical profile of aerosol extinction and its seasonality over the Pacific are also well simulated. The difference between the simulation and satellite retrievals can be mainly attributed to model biases in estimating marine aerosol emissions as well as the satellite sampling and retrieval uncertainties. Compared with the surface measurements over the western USA, the model reasonably simulates the observed magnitude and seasonality of dust, sulfate, and nitrate surface concentrations, but significantly underestimates the peak surface concentrations of carbonaceous aerosol likely due to model biases in the spatial and temporal variability of biomass burning emissions and secondary organic aerosol (SOA) production. A sensitivity simulation shows that the trans-Pacific transported dust, sulfate, and nitrate can make significant contribution to surface concentrations over the rural areas of the western USA, while the peaks of carbonaceous aerosol surface concentrations are dominated by the North American emissions. Both the retrievals and simulation show small interannual variability of aerosol characteristics for 2010–2014 averaged over three Pacific sub-regions. The evaluation in this study demonstrates that the WRF-Chem quasi-global simulation can be used for investigating trans-Pacific transport of aerosols and providing reasonable inflow chemical boundaries for the western USA, allowing one to further understand the impact of transported pollutants on the regional air quality and climate with high-resolution nested regional modeling.