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Evaluating the ability of a numerical weather prediction model to forecast tracer concentrations during ETEX 2

By H. F. Dacre


In this paper the meteorological processes responsible for transporting tracer during the second ETEX (European Tracer EXperiment) release are determined using the UK Met Office Unified Model (UM). The UM predicted distribution of tracer is also compared with observations from the ETEX campaign. The dominant meteorological process is a warm conveyor belt which transports large amounts of tracer away from the surface up to a height of 4 km over a 36 h period. Convection is also an important process, transporting tracer to heights of up to 8 km. Potential sources of error when using an operational numerical weather prediction model to forecast air quality are also investigated. These potential sources of error include model dynamics, model resolution and model physics. In the UM a semi-Lagrangian monotonic advection scheme is used with cubic polynomial interpolation. This can predict unrealistic negative values of tracer which are subsequently set to zero, and hence results in an overprediction of tracer concentrations. In order to conserve mass in the UM tracer simulations it was necessary to include a flux corrected transport method. Model resolution can also affect the accuracy of predicted tracer distributions. Low resolution simulations (50 km grid length) were unable to resolve a change in wind direction observed during ETEX 2, this led to an error in the transport direction and hence an error in tracer distribution. High resolution simulations (12 km grid length) captured the change in wind direction and hence produced a tracer distribution that compared better with the observations. The representation of convective mixing was found to have a large effect on the vertical transport of tracer. Turning off the convective mixing parameterisation in the UM significantly reduced the vertical transport of tracer. Finally, air quality forecasts were found to be sensitive to the timing of synoptic scale features. Errors in the position of the cold front relative to the tracer release location of only 1 h resulted in changes in the predicted tracer concentrations that were of the same order of magnitude as the absolute tracer concentrations

Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2009.10.039
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