Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 3045-3064, 2012
© Author(s) 2012. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
29 Mar 2012
Evaluating WRF-Chem aerosol indirect effects in Southeast Pacific marine stratocumulus during VOCALS-REx
P. E. Saide1, S. N. Spak1, G. R. Carmichael1, M. A. Mena-Carrasco2, Q. Yang3, S. Howell4, D. C. Leon5, J. R. Snider5, A. R. Bandy6, J. L. Collett7, K. B. Benedict7, S. P. de Szoeke8, L. N. Hawkins9, G. Allen10, I. Crawford10, J. Crosier10, and S. R. Springston11 1Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
2Center for Sustainability Research, Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile
3Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
4Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, USA
5Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
6Department of Chemistry, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA
7Colorado State University, Department of Atmospheric Science, Fort Collins, CO, USA
8Oregon State University, College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences, Corvallis, OR, USA
9Harvey Mudd College, Department of Chemistry, Claremont, CA, USA
10Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
11Brookhaven National Laboratory, USA
Abstract. We evaluate a regional-scale simulation with the WRF-Chem model for the VAMOS (Variability of the American Monsoon Systems) Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-REx), which sampled the Southeast Pacific's persistent stratocumulus deck. Evaluation of VOCALS-REx ship-based and three aircraft observations focuses on analyzing how aerosol loading affects marine boundary layer (MBL) dynamics and cloud microphysics. We compare local time series and campaign-averaged longitudinal gradients, and highlight differences in model simulations with (W) and without (NW) wet deposition processes. The higher aerosol loadings in the NW case produce considerable changes in MBL dynamics and cloud microphysics, in accordance with the established conceptual model of aerosol indirect effects. These include increase in cloud albedo, increase in MBL and cloud heights, drizzle suppression, increase in liquid water content, and increase in cloud lifetime. Moreover, better statistical representation of aerosol mass and number concentration improves model fidelity in reproducing observed spatial and temporal variability in cloud properties, including top and base height, droplet concentration, water content, rain rate, optical depth (COD) and liquid water path (LWP). Together, these help to quantify confidence in WRF-Chem's modeled aerosol-cloud interactions, especially in the activation parameterization, while identifying structural and parametric uncertainties including: irreversibility in rain wet removal; overestimation of marine DMS and sea salt emissions, and accelerated aqueous sulfate conversion. Our findings suggest that WRF-Chem simulates marine cloud-aerosol interactions at a level sufficient for applications in forecasting weather and air quality and studying aerosol climate forcing, and may do so with the reliability required for policy analysis.

Citation: Saide, P. E., Spak, S. N., Carmichael, G. R., Mena-Carrasco, M. A., Yang, Q., Howell, S., Leon, D. C., Snider, J. R., Bandy, A. R., Collett, J. L., Benedict, K. B., de Szoeke, S. P., Hawkins, L. N., Allen, G., Crawford, I., Crosier, J., and Springston, S. R.: Evaluating WRF-Chem aerosol indirect effects in Southeast Pacific marine stratocumulus during VOCALS-REx, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 12, 3045-3064,, 2012.
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