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https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-713
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2018-713
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 03 Sep 2018

Research article | 03 Sep 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics (ACP).

An evaluation of European nitrogen and sulfur wet deposition and their trends estimated by six chemistry transport models for the period 1990–2010

Mark R. Theobald1, Marta G. Vivanco1, Wenche Aas2, Camilla Andersson3, Giancarlo Ciarelli4, Florian Couvidat5, Kees Cuvelier6, Astrid Manders7, Mihaela Mircea8, Maria-Teresa Pay9, Svetlana Tsyro10, Mario Adani8, Robert Bergström3,11, Bertrand Bessagnet5, Gino Briganti8, Andrea Cappelletti8, Massimo D'Isidoro8, Hilde Fagerli10, Kathleen Mar12, Noelia Otero12, Valentin Raffort13, Yelva Roustan13, Martijn Schaap7,14, Peter Wind10,15, and Augustin Colette5 Mark R. Theobald et al.
  • 1Atmospheric Pollution Unit, CIEMAT, Avda. Complutense, 40, 28040 Madrid, Spain
  • 2Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Box 100, 2027 Kjeller, Norway
  • 3Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, 60176 Norrköping, Sweden
  • 4Laboratoire Inter-Universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques (LISA), UMR CNRS 7583, Université Paris Est Créteil et Université Paris Diderot, Institut Pierre Simon Laplace, Créteil, France
  • 5National Institute for Industrial Environment and Risks (INERIS), Parc Technologique ALATA, F-60550 Verneuil-en-Halatte, France
  • 6ex European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy
  • 7Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research (TNO), P.O. Box 80015, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands
  • 8Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA), Via Martiri di Monte Sole 4, 40129 Bologna, Italy
  • 9Barcelona Supercomputing Center, Centro Nacional de Supercomputación, Jordi Girona, 29, 08034 Barcelona, Spain
  • 10Climate Modelling and Air Pollution Division, Research and Development Department, Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET Norway), Blindern, N-0313 Oslo, Norway
  • 11Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, SE-412 96, Sweden
  • 12Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS), Postdam, Germany
  • 13CEREA, Joint Laboratory Ecole des Ponts ParisTech - EDF R&D, Champs-Sur-Marne, France
  • 14Institute for Meteorology, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany
  • 15Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

Abstract. The wet deposition of nitrogen and sulfur in Europe for the period 1990–2010 was estimated by six atmospheric chemistry transport models (CHIMERE, CMAQ, EMEP MSC-W, LOTOS-EUROS, MATCH and MINNI) within the framework of the EURODELTA-Trends model intercomparison. The simulated wet deposition and its trends for two eleven-year periods (1990–2000 and 2000–2010) were evaluated using data from observations from the EMEP European monitoring network. For annual wet deposition of oxidised nitrogen (WNOx), model bias was within 30% of the average of the observations for most models. There was a tendency for most models to underestimate annual wet deposition of reduced nitrogen (WNHx) although model bias was within 40% of the average of the observations. Model bias for WNHx was inversely correlated with model bias for atmospheric concentrations of NH3+NH4+, suggesting that an underestimation of wet deposition partially contributed to an overestimation of atmospheric concentrations. Model bias was also within about 40% of the average of the observations for the annual wet deposition of sulfur (WSOx) for most models.

Decreasing trends in WNOx were observed at most sites for both eleven-year periods, with larger trends, on average, for the second period. The models also estimated predominantly decreasing trends at the monitoring sites and all but one of the models estimated larger trends, on average, for the second period. Decreasing trends were also observed at most sites for WNHx, although larger trends, on average, were observed for the first period. This pattern was not reproduced by the models, which estimated smaller decreasing trends, on average, than those observed or even small increasing trends. The largest observed trends were for WSOx, with decreasing trends at more than 80% of the sites. On average, the observed trends were larger for the first period. All models were able to reproduce this pattern although some models underestimated the trends (by up to a factor of four) and others overestimated them (by up to 40%), on average. These biases in modelled trends were directly related to the tendency of the models to under- or overestimate annual wet deposition and were smaller for the relative trends (expressed as %yr−1 relative to the deposition at the start of the period).

The fact that model biases were fairly constant throughout the time series makes it possible to improve the predictions of wet deposition for future scenarios by adjusting the model estimates using a bias correction calculated from past observations. An analysis of the contributions of various factors to the modelled trends suggests that the predominantly decreasing trends in wet deposition are mostly due to reductions in emissions of the precursors NOx, NH3 and SOx. However, changes in meteorology (e.g. precipitation) and other (non-linear) interactions partially offset the decreasing trends due to emission reductions during the first period, but not the second. This suggests that the emission reduction measures had a larger effect on wet deposition during the second period, at least for the sites with observations.

Mark R. Theobald et al.
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Short summary
Model estimates of the mean European wet deposition of nitrogen and sulfur for the period 1990 to 2010 were within 40 % of the observed values. As a result of systematic biases, the models were better at estimating relative trends for the periods 1990–2000 and 2000–2010 than the absolute trends. Although the predominantly decreasing trends were mostly due to emission reductions they were partially offset by other factors (e.g. changes in precipitation) during the first period, but not the second.
Model estimates of the mean European wet deposition of nitrogen and sulfur for the period 1990...
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