Air quality modelling in the summer over the eastern Mediterranean using WRF-Chem: chemistry and aerosol mechanism intercomparison


We employ the WRF-Chem model to study summertime air pollution, the intense photochemical activity and their impact on air quality over the eastern Mediterranean. We utilize three nested domains with horizontal resolutions of 80, 16 and 4 km, with the finest grid focusing on the island of Cyprus, where the CYPHEX campaign took place in July 2014. Anthropogenic emissions are based on the EDGAR HTAP global emission inventory, while dust and biogenic emissions are calculated online. Three simulations utilizing the CBMZ-MOSAIC, MOZART-MOSAIC, and RADM2-MADE/SORGAM gas-phase and aerosol mechanisms are performed. The results are compared with measurements from a dense observational network of 14 ground stations in Cyprus. The model simulates T2m, Psurf, and WD10m accurately, with minor differences in WS10m between model and observations at coastal and mountainous stations attributed to limitations in the representation of the complex topography in the model. It is shown that the south-eastern part of Cyprus is mostly affected by emissions from within the island, under the dominant (60%) westerly flow during summertime. Clean maritime air from the Mediterranean can reduce concentrations of local air pollutants over the region during westerlies. Ozone concentrations are overestimated by all three mechanisms with the smaller mean bias (4.25ppbV) obtained by the RADM2-MADE/SORGAM mechanism. Differences in ozone concentrations can be attributed to the VOC treatment by the three mechanisms. The diurnal variability of pollution and ozone precursors is not captured. This might be attributed to the underestimation of NOx concentrations by local emissions by up to 50%. For the fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the lowest mean bias is obtained with the RADM2-MADE/SORGAM mechanism, with overestimates in sulfate and ammonium aerosols. Overestimation of sulfate aerosols by this mechanism may be linked to the SO2 oxidation in clouds. The MOSAIC aerosol mechanism overestimates PM2.5 concentrations due to a more pronounced dust component compared to the other two mechanisms, mostly influenced by the dust inflow from the global model. We conclude that all three mechanisms are very sensitive to boundary conditions from the global model for both gas-phase and aerosol pollutants, in particular dust and ozone.

In Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.