Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 22663-22718, 2011
© Author(s) 2011. This work is distributed
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This discussion paper has been under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP). Please refer to the corresponding final paper in ACP.
Assessing regional scale predictions of aerosols, marine stratocumulus, and their interactions during VOCALS-REx using WRF-Chem
Q. Yang1, W. I. Gustafson Jr.1, J. D. Fast1, H. Wang1, R. C. Easter1, and H. Morrison2
1Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA, USA
2National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA

Abstract. In the recent chemistry version (v3.3) of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-Chem) model, we have coupled the Morrison double-moment microphysics scheme with interactive aerosols so that two-way aerosol-cloud interactions are included in the simulations. We have used this new WRF-Chem functionality in a study focused on assessing predictions of aerosols, marine stratocumulus clouds, and their interactions over the Southeast Pacific using measurements from the VAMOS Ocean-Cloud-Atmosphere-Land Study Regional Experiment (VOCALS-REx) and satellite retrievals. This study also serves as a detailed analysis of our WRF-Chem simulations contributed to the VOCALS model Assessment (VOCA) project. The WRF-Chem 31-day (15 October–16 November 2008) simulation with aerosol-cloud interactions (AERO hereafter) is also compared to a simulation (MET hereafter) with fixed cloud droplet number concentrations assumed by the default in Morrison microphysics scheme with no interactive aerosols. The well-predicted aerosol properties such as number, mass composition, and optical depth lead to significant improvements in many features of the simulated stratocumulus clouds: cloud optical properties and microphysical properties such as cloud top effective radius, cloud water path, and cloud optical thickness, and cloud macrostructure such as cloud depth and cloud base height. In addition to accounting for the aerosol direct and semi-direct effects, these improvements feed back to the prediction of boundary-layer characteristics and energy budgets. Particularly, inclusion of interactive aerosols in AERO strengthens the temperature and humidity gradients within the capping inversion layer and lowers the marine boundary layer depth by 150 m from that of the MET simulation. Mean top-of-the-atmosphere outgoing shortwave fluxes, surface latent heat, and surface downwelling longwave fluxes are in better agreement with observations in AERO, compared to the MET simulation. Nevertheless, biases in some of the simulated meteorological quantities (e.g., MBL temperature and humidity over the remote ocean) and aerosol quantities (e.g., overestimations of supermicron sea salt mass) might affect simulated stratocumulus and energy fluxes over the southeastern Pacific Ocean, and require further investigations. Although not perfect, the overall performance of the regional model in simulating mesoscale aerosol-cloud interactions is encouraging and suggests that the inclusion of spatially varying aerosol characteristics is important when simulating marine stratocumulus over the southeastern Pacific.

Citation: Yang, Q., W. I. Gustafson Jr., Fast, J. D., Wang, H., Easter, R. C., and Morrison, H.: Assessing regional scale predictions of aerosols, marine stratocumulus, and their interactions during VOCALS-REx using WRF-Chem, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Discuss., 11, 22663-22718, doi:10.5194/acpd-11-22663-2011, 2011.
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