Journal article

Effects of model resolution on the interpretation of satellite NO2 observations

Valin L, Russell A, Hudman R, Cohen R ...see all

Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 11, issue 22 (2011) pp. 11647-11655

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Abstract

Inference of NOx emissions (NO+NO2) from satellite observations of
tropospheric NO2 column requires knowledge of NOx lifetime, usually
provided by chemical transport models (CTMs). However, it is known that
species subject to non-linear sources or sinks, such as ozone, are
susceptible to biases in coarse-resolution CTMs. Here we compute the
resolution-dependent bias in predicted NO2 column, a quantity relevant
to the interpretation of space-based observations. We use 1-D and 2-D
models to illustrate the mechanisms responsible for these biases over a
range of NO2 concentrations and model resolutions. We find that
predicted biases are largest at coarsest model resolutions with negative
biases predicted over large sources and positive biases predicted over
small sources. As an example, we use WRF-CHEM to illustrate the
resolution necessary to predict 10 AM and 1 PM NO2 column to 10 and 25%
accuracy over three large sources, the Four Corners power plants in NW
New Mexico, Los Angeles, and the San Joaquin Valley in California for a
week-long simulation in July 2006. We find that resolution in the range
of 4-12 km is sufficient to accurately model nonlinear effects in the
NO2 loss rate.

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Authors

  • L. C. Valin

  • A. R. Russell

  • R. C. Hudman

  • R. C. Cohen

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