Comparison of PMCAMx aerosol optical depth predictions over Europe with AERONET and MODIS measurements
Abstract. The ability of chemical transport model (CTM) PMCAMx to reproduce aerosol optical depth (AOD) measurements by the Aerosol Robotic Network (AERONET) and the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) over Europe during the photochemically active period of May 2008 (EUCAARI campaign) is evaluated. Periods with high dust or sea-salt levels are excluded, so the analysis focuses on the ability of the model to simulate the mostly secondary aerosol and its interactions with water. PMCAMx reproduces the monthly mean MODIS and AERONET AOD values over the Iberian Peninsula, the British Isles, central Europe, and Russia with a fractional bias of less than 15 % and a fractional error of less than 30 %. However, the model overestimates the AOD over northern Europe, most probably due to an overestimation of organic aerosol and sulfates. At the other end, PMCAMx underestimates the monthly mean MODIS AOD over the Balkans, the Mediterranean, and the South Atlantic. These errors appear to be related to an underestimation of sulfates. Sensitivity tests indicate that the evaluation results of the monthly mean AODs are quite sensitive to the relative humidity (RH) fields used by PMCAMx, but are not sensitive to the simulated size distribution and the black carbon mixing state. The screening of the satellite retrievals for periods with high dust (or coarse particles in general) concentrations as well as the combination of the MODIS and AERONET datasets lead to more robust conclusions about the ability of the model to simulate the secondary aerosol components that dominate the AOD during this period.