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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 8, issue 6
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1885-1898, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Geosci. Model Dev., 8, 1885-1898, 2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Development and technical paper 30 Jun 2015

Development and technical paper | 30 Jun 2015

Integration of prognostic aerosol–cloud interactions in a chemistry transport model coupled offline to a regional climate model

M. A. Thomas1, M. Kahnert2,1, C. Andersson1, H. Kokkola3, U. Hansson1, C. Jones4,1, J. Langner1, and A. Devasthale1 M. A. Thomas et al.
  • 1Research Department, Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute, Folkborgsvägen 17, 60176 Norrköping, Sweden
  • 2Department of Earth and Space Sciences, Chalmers University of Technology, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden
  • 3Finnish Meteorological Institute, Kuopio, Finland
  • 4National Centre for Atmospheric Science, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT Leeds, UK

Abstract. To reduce uncertainties and hence to obtain a better estimate of aerosol (direct and indirect) radiative forcing, next generation climate models aim for a tighter coupling between chemistry transport models and regional climate models and a better representation of aerosol–cloud interactions. In this study, this coupling is done by first forcing the Rossby Center regional climate model (RCA4) with ERA-Interim lateral boundaries and sea surface temperature (SST) using the standard cloud droplet number concentration (CDNC) formulation (hereafter, referred to as the "stand-alone RCA4 version" or "CTRL" simulation). In the stand-alone RCA4 version, CDNCs are constants distinguishing only between land and ocean surface. The meteorology from this simulation is then used to drive the chemistry transport model, Multiple-scale Atmospheric Transport and Chemistry (MATCH), which is coupled online with the aerosol dynamics model, Sectional Aerosol module for Large Scale Applications (SALSA). CDNC fields obtained from MATCH–SALSA are then fed back into a new RCA4 simulation. In this new simulation (referred to as "MOD" simulation), all parameters remain the same as in the first run except for the CDNCs provided by MATCH–SALSA. Simulations are carried out with this model setup for the period 2005–2012 over Europe, and the differences in cloud microphysical properties and radiative fluxes as a result of local CDNC changes and possible model responses are analysed.

Our study shows substantial improvements in cloud microphysical properties with the input of the MATCH–SALSA derived 3-D CDNCs compared to the stand-alone RCA4 version. This model setup improves the spatial, seasonal and vertical distribution of CDNCs with a higher concentration observed over central Europe during boreal summer (JJA) and over eastern Europe and Russia during winter (DJF). Realistic cloud droplet radii (CD radii) values have been simulated with the maxima reaching 13 μm, whereas in the stand-alone version the values reached only 5 μm. A substantial improvement in the distribution of the cloud liquid-water paths (CLWP) was observed when compared to the satellite retrievals from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) for the boreal summer months. The median and standard deviation values from the "MOD" simulation are closer to observations than those obtained using the stand-alone RCA4 version. These changes resulted in a significant decrease in the total annual mean net fluxes at the top of the atmosphere (TOA) by −5 W m−2 over the domain selected in the study. The TOA net fluxes from the "MOD" simulation show a better agreement with the retrievals from the Clouds and the Earth's Radiant Energy System (CERES) instrument. The aerosol indirect effects are estimated in the "MOD" simulation in comparison to the pre-industrial aerosol emissions (1900). Our simulations estimated the domain averaged annual mean total radiative forcing of −0.64 W m−2 with a larger contribution from the first indirect aerosol effect (−0.57 W m−2) than from the second indirect aerosol effect (−0.14 W m−2).

Publications Copernicus
Short summary
We have showed that a coupled modelling system is beneficial in the sense that more complex processes can be included to better represent the aerosol processes starting from their formation, their interactions with clouds and provide better estimate of radiative forcing. Using this model set up, we estimated an annual mean 'indirect' radiative forcing of -0.64W/m2. This means that aerosols, solely by their capability of altering the microphysical properties of clouds can cool the Earth system.
We have showed that a coupled modelling system is beneficial in the sense that more complex...