Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Development and technical paper
12 May 2016
Development and technical paper |  | 12 May 2016

Coupling aerosol optics to the MATCH (v5.5.0) chemical transport model and the SALSA (v1) aerosol microphysics module

Emma Andersson and Michael Kahnert

Abstract. A new aerosol-optics model is implemented in which realistic morphologies and mixing states are assumed, especially for black carbon particles. The model includes both external and internal mixing of all chemical species, it treats externally mixed black carbon as fractal aggregates, and it accounts for inhomogeneous internal mixing of black carbon by use of a novel "core-grey-shell" model. Simulated results of aerosol optical properties, such as aerosol optical depth, backscattering coefficients and the Ångström exponent, as well as radiative fluxes are computed with the new optics model and compared with results from an older optics-model version that treats all particles as externally mixed homogeneous spheres. The results show that using a more detailed description of particle morphology and mixing state impacts the aerosol optical properties to a degree of the same order of magnitude as the effects of aerosol-microphysical processes. For instance, the aerosol optical depth computed for two cases in 2007 shows a relative difference between the two optics models that varies over the European region between −28 and 18 %, while the differences caused by the inclusion or omission of the aerosol-microphysical processes range from −50 to 37 %. This is an important finding, suggesting that a simple optics model coupled to a chemical transport model can introduce considerable errors affecting radiative fluxes in chemistry-climate models, compromising comparisons of model results with remote sensing observations of aerosols, and impeding the assimilation of satellite products for aerosols into chemical-transport models.

Short summary
Modelling aerosol optical properties is a notoriously difficult task due to the particles' complex morphologies and compositions. Yet aerosol particles and their optical properties are important for chemistry-climate modelling and remote sensing applications. In this study we aim to find answers to whether or not a detailed description of aerosol particles gives a significant impact on modelled radiative properties.