Journal cover Journal topic
Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 4679-4713, 2014
© Author(s) 2014. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
13 May 2014
Intercomparison and evaluation of global aerosol microphysical properties among AeroCom models of a range of complexity
G. W. Mann1,2, K. S. Carslaw2, C. L. Reddington2, K. J. Pringle2,5, M. Schulz3, A. Asmi4, D. V. Spracklen2, D. A. Ridley2,6, M. T. Woodhouse2,25, L. A. Lee2, K. Zhang7,8, S. J. Ghan8, R. C. Easter8, X. Liu8,37, P. Stier9, Y. H. Lee10,13, P. J. Adams10, H. Tost5,32, J. Lelieveld5,12, S. E. Bauer11,13, K. Tsigaridis11,13, T. P. C. van Noije14, A. Strunk14, E. Vignati15, N. Bellouin16, M. Dalvi17, C. E. Johnson17, T. Bergman18, H. Kokkola18, K. von Salzen19, F. Yu20, G. Luo20, A. Petzold21,33, J. Heintzenberg22, A. Clarke23, J. A. Ogren24, J. Gras25, U. Baltensperger26, U. Kaminski27, S. G. Jennings28, C. D. O'Dowd28, R. M. Harrison29,34, D. C. S. Beddows29, M. Kulmala30, Y. Viisanen4, V. Ulevicius31, N. Mihalopoulos35, V. Zdimal36, M. Fiebig38, H.-C. Hansson39, E. Swietlicki40, and J. S. Henzing41 1National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
2School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
3Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo, Norway
4Helsinki University, Helsinki, Finland
5Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
6Civil and Environmental Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
7Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
8Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
9Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
10Civil & Environment Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
11Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
12The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
13NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, USA
14Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), De Bilt, the Netherlands
15EU Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
16Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, Reading, UK
17Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
18Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio Unit, Kuopio, Finland
19Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Environment Canada, Canada
20Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, NY State University, Albany, USA
21Institute of Atmospheric Physics, DLR, Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
22Leibniz Institute for Tropospheric Research, Leipzig, Germany
23Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI, USA
24Earth System Research Laboratory, NOAA, Boulder, Colorado, USA
25CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
26Paul Scherrer Institute, Villigen, Switzerland
27Deutscher Wetterdienst (DWD), Germany
28National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland
29National Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
30Department of Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
31Center for Physical Sciences and Technology, Vilnius, Lithuania
32Institute for Physics of the Atmosphere, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany
33Forschungszentrum Juelich, IEK-8 Troposphere, Juelich, Germany
34Department of Environmental Sciences, King Abdulaziz University, P.O. Box 80203, Jeddah, 21589, Saudi Arabia
35Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
36Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals, Rozvojova, Prague, Czech Republic
37Department of Atmospheric Science, University of WY, Laramie, Wyoming, USA
38Department for Atmospheric and Climate Research, Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Norway
39Department of Applied Environmental Science, Stockholm University, Sweden
40Department of Physics, Lund University, Lund, Sweden
41Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), Utrecht, the Netherlands
Abstract. Many of the next generation of global climate models will include aerosol schemes which explicitly simulate the microphysical processes that determine the particle size distribution. These models enable aerosol optical properties and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) concentrations to be determined by fundamental aerosol processes, which should lead to a more physically based simulation of aerosol direct and indirect radiative forcings. This study examines the global variation in particle size distribution simulated by 12 global aerosol microphysics models to quantify model diversity and to identify any common biases against observations. Evaluation against size distribution measurements from a new European network of aerosol supersites shows that the mean model agrees quite well with the observations at many sites on the annual mean, but there are some seasonal biases common to many sites. In particular, at many of these European sites, the accumulation mode number concentration is biased low during winter and Aitken mode concentrations tend to be overestimated in winter and underestimated in summer. At high northern latitudes, the models strongly underpredict Aitken and accumulation particle concentrations compared to the measurements, consistent with previous studies that have highlighted the poor performance of global aerosol models in the Arctic. In the marine boundary layer, the models capture the observed meridional variation in the size distribution, which is dominated by the Aitken mode at high latitudes, with an increasing concentration of accumulation particles with decreasing latitude. Considering vertical profiles, the models reproduce the observed peak in total particle concentrations in the upper troposphere due to new particle formation, although modelled peak concentrations tend to be biased high over Europe. Overall, the multi-model-mean data set simulates the global variation of the particle size distribution with a good degree of skill, suggesting that most of the individual global aerosol microphysics models are performing well, although the large model diversity indicates that some models are in poor agreement with the observations. Further work is required to better constrain size-resolved primary and secondary particle number sources, and an improved understanding of nucleation and growth (e.g. the role of nitrate and secondary organics) will improve the fidelity of simulated particle size distributions.

Citation: Mann, G. W., Carslaw, K. S., Reddington, C. L., Pringle, K. J., Schulz, M., Asmi, A., Spracklen, D. V., Ridley, D. A., Woodhouse, M. T., Lee, L. A., Zhang, K., Ghan, S. J., Easter, R. C., Liu, X., Stier, P., Lee, Y. H., Adams, P. J., Tost, H., Lelieveld, J., Bauer, S. E., Tsigaridis, K., van Noije, T. P. C., Strunk, A., Vignati, E., Bellouin, N., Dalvi, M., Johnson, C. E., Bergman, T., Kokkola, H., von Salzen, K., Yu, F., Luo, G., Petzold, A., Heintzenberg, J., Clarke, A., Ogren, J. A., Gras, J., Baltensperger, U., Kaminski, U., Jennings, S. G., O'Dowd, C. D., Harrison, R. M., Beddows, D. C. S., Kulmala, M., Viisanen, Y., Ulevicius, V., Mihalopoulos, N., Zdimal, V., Fiebig, M., Hansson, H.-C., Swietlicki, E., and Henzing, J. S.: Intercomparison and evaluation of global aerosol microphysical properties among AeroCom models of a range of complexity, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 14, 4679-4713,, 2014.
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