Articles | Volume 9, issue 2
Development and technical paper
18 Feb 2016
Development and technical paper |  | 18 Feb 2016

Decadal evaluation of regional climate, air quality, and their interactions over the continental US and their interactions using WRF/Chem version 3.6.1

Khairunnisa Yahya, Kai Wang, Patrick Campbell, Timothy Glotfelty, Jian He, and Yang Zhang

Abstract. The Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF/Chem) v3.6.1 with the Carbon Bond 2005 (CB05) gas-phase mechanism is evaluated for its first decadal application during 2001–2010 using the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP 8.5) emissions to assess its capability and appropriateness for long-term climatological simulations. The initial and boundary conditions are downscaled from the modified Community Earth System Model/Community Atmosphere Model (CESM/CAM5) v1.2.2. The meteorological initial and boundary conditions are bias-corrected using the National Center for Environmental Protection's Final (FNL) Operational Global Analysis data. Climatological evaluations are carried out for meteorological, chemical, and aerosol–cloud–radiation variables against data from surface networks and satellite retrievals. The model performs very well for the 2 m temperature (T2) for the 10-year period, with only a small cold bias of −0.3 °C. Biases in other meteorological variables including relative humidity at 2 m, wind speed at 10 m, and precipitation tend to be site- and season-specific; however, with the exception of T2, consistent annual biases exist for most of the years from 2001 to 2010. Ozone mixing ratios are slightly overpredicted at both urban and rural locations with a normalized mean bias (NMB) of 9.7 % but underpredicted at rural locations with an NMB of −8.8 %. PM2.5 concentrations are moderately overpredicted with an NMB of 23.3 % at rural sites but slightly underpredicted with an NMB of −10.8 % at urban/suburban sites. In general, the model performs relatively well for chemical and meteorological variables, and not as well for aerosol–cloud–radiation variables. Cloud-aerosol variables including aerosol optical depth, cloud water path, cloud optical thickness, and cloud droplet number concentration are generally underpredicted on average across the continental US. Overpredictions of several cloud variables over the eastern US result in underpredictions of radiation variables (such as net shortwave radiation – GSW – with a mean bias – MB – of −5.7 W m−2) and overpredictions of shortwave and longwave cloud forcing (MBs of  ∼  7 to 8 W m−2), which are important climate variables. While the current performance is deemed to be acceptable, improvements to the bias-correction method for CESM downscaling and the model parameterizations of cloud dynamics and thermodynamics, as well as aerosol–cloud interactions, can potentially improve model performance for long-term climate simulations.

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Short summary
The Weather Research and Forecasting model with Chemistry (WRF/Chem) v3.6.1 is evaluated for its first decadal application during 2001 to 2010 using the Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5 emissions. The model evaluation shows acceptable performance for long-term climatological simulations of most meteorological variables and chemical concentrations. Larger biases exist for aerosol-cloud-radiation variables, which future model improvement should focus on.