Submitted as: model description paper
25 Apr 2023
Submitted as: model description paper |  | 25 Apr 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Description and performance of the CARMA sectional aerosol microphysical model in CESM2

Simone Tilmes, Michael J. Mills, Yunqian Zhu, Charles G. Bardeen, Francis Vitt, Pengfei Yu, David Fillmore, Xiaohong Liu, Brian Toon, and Terry Deshler

Abstract. We implemented the Community Aerosol and Radiation Model for Atmospheres (CARMA) in both the high and low-top model versions of the Community Earth System Model Version 2 (CESM2). CARMA is a sectional microphysical model, which we use for aerosol in both the troposphere and stratosphere. CARMA is fully coupled to chemistry, clouds, radiation, and transport routines in CESM2. This development enables the comparison of simulations with a sectional (CARMA) and a modal (MAM4) aerosol microphysical model in the same modeling framework. The new implementation of CARMA has been adopted from previous work with some additions that align with the current CESM2 MAM4 implementation. The main updates include an interactive secondary organic aerosol description in CARMA using the volatility basis set (VBS) approach, updated wet removal, and the use of transient emissions of aerosols and trace gases. In addition, we implemented an alternative aerosol nucleation scheme in CARMA, which is also used in MAM4. Detailed comparisons of stratospheric aerosol properties after the Mt Pinatubo eruption reveal the importance of prescribing sulfur injections in a larger region rather than in a single column to better represent the observed evolution of aerosols. Both CARMA and MAM4 in CESM2 are able to represent stratospheric and tropospheric aerosol properties reasonably well compared to observations. Several differences in the performance of the two aerosol models show, in general, an improved representation of aerosols using the sectional aerosol model in CESM2. These include a better representation of the aerosol size distribution after the Mt Pinatubo volcanic eruption in CARMA compared to MAM4. MAM4 produces on average smaller aerosols and less removal than CARMA, which results in a larger total mass. Both CARMA and MAM4 reproduce stratospheric Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD) within the errorbar of the observations between 2001 and 2020, except for recent larger volcanic eruptions that are overestimated by both model configurations. The CARMA background surface area density and aerosol size distribution in the stratosphere and troposphere compare well to observations, with some underestimation of the Aitken-mode size range. MAM4 shows shortcomings in reproducing coarse-mode aerosol distributions in the stratosphere and troposphere. This work outlines additional development needs for CESM2 CARMA to improve the model compared to observations in both the troposphere and stratosphere.

Simone Tilmes et al.

Status: open (until 20 Jun 2023)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse

Simone Tilmes et al.

Simone Tilmes et al.


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Short summary
We implemented an alternative aerosol scheme in the high and low-top model versions of the Community Earth System Model Version 2 (CESM2) with a more detailed description of tropospheric and stratospheric aerosol size distributions than the existing aerosol model. The development enables the comparison of different aerosol schemes with different complexity in the same model framework and identifies improvements in comparison to a range of observations in both the troposphere and stratosphere.