Inter-comparison and performance evaluation of chemistry transport models over Indian region

Gaurav R. Govardhan, Ravi S. Nanjundiah, S. K. Satheesh, K. Krishna Moorthy, Toshihiko Takemura

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Aerosol loading over the South Asian region has the potential to affect the monsoon rainfall, Himalayan glaciers and regional air-quality, with implications for the billions in this region. While field campaigns and network observations provide primary data, they tend to be location/season specific. Numerical models are useful to regionalize such location-specific data. Studies have shown that numerical models underestimate the aerosol scenario over the Indian region, mainly due to shortcomings related to meteorology and the emission inventories used. In this context, we have evaluated the performance of two such chemistry-transport models: WRF-Chem and SPRINTARS over an India-centric domain. The models differ in many aspects including physical domain, horizontal resolution, meteorological forcing and so on etc. Despite these differences, both the models simulated similar spatial patterns of Black Carbon (BC) mass concentration, (with a spatial correlation of 0.9 with each other), and a reasonable estimates of its concentration, though both of them under-estimated vis-a-vis the observations. While the emissions are lower (higher) in SPRINTARS (WRF-Chem), overestimation of wind parameters in WRF-Chem caused the concentration to be similar in both models. Additionally, we quantified the underestimations of anthropogenic BC emissions in the inventories used these two models and three other widely used emission inventories. Our analysis indicates that all these emission inventories underestimate the emissions of BC over India by a factor that ranges from 1.5 to 2.9. We have also studied the model simulations of aerosol optical depth over the Indian region. The models differ significantly in simulations of AOD, with WRF-Chem having a better agreement with satellite observations of AOD as far as the spatial pattern is concerned. It is important to note that in addition to BC, dust can also contribute significantly to AOD. The models differ in simulations of the spatial pattern of mineral dust over the Indian region. We find that both meteorological forcing and emission formulation contribute to these differences. Since AOD is column integrated parameter, description of vertical profiles in both models, especially since elevated aerosol layers are often observed over Indian region, could be also a contributing factor. Additionally, differences in the prescription of the optical properties of BC between the models appear to affect the AOD simulations. We also compared simulation of sea-salt concentration in the two models and found that WRF-Chem underestimated its concentration vis-a-vis SPRINTARS. The differences in near-surface oceanic wind speeds appear to be the main source of this difference. In-spite of these differences, we note that there are similarities in their simulation of spatial patterns of various aerosol species (with each other and with observations) and hence models could be valuable tools for aerosol-related studies over the Indian region. Better estimation of emission inventories could improve aerosol-related simulations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)486-504
    Number of pages19
    JournalAtmospheric Environment
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • General Environmental Science
    • Atmospheric Science


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