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Journal Article

Evaluation of the boundary layer dynamics of the TM5 model over Europe


Karstens,  Ute
Regional Scale Modelling of Atmospheric Trace Gases, Dr. U. Karstens, Department Biogeochemical Systems, Prof. M. Heimann, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Koffi, E. N., Bergamaschi, P., Karstens, U., Krol, M., Segers, A., Schmidt, M., et al. (2016). Evaluation of the boundary layer dynamics of the TM5 model over Europe. Geoscientific Model Development, 9(9), 3137-3160. doi:10.5194/gmd-9-3137-2016.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002A-1C20-3
We evaluate the capability of the global atmospheric transport model TM5 to reproduce observations of the boundary layer dynamics and the associated variability of trace gases close to the surface, using radon (222Rn), which is an excellent tracer for vertical mixing owing to its short lifetime (half-life) of 3.82 days. Focusing on the European scale, we compare the boundary layer height (BLH) in the TM5 model with observations from the NOAA Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive (IGRA) and in addition with ceilometer measurements at Cabauw (The Netherlands) and lidar BLH retrievals at Trainou (France). Furthermore, we compare TM5 simulations of 222Rn activity concentrations, using a novel, process-based 222Rn flux map over Europe (Karstens et al., 2015), with quasi-continuous 222Rn measurements from 10 European monitoring stations. The TM5 model reproduces relatively well the daytime BLH (within ~ 10–20 % for most of the stations), except for coastal sites, for which differences are usually larger due to model representation errors. During night, TM5 overestimates the shallow nocturnal BLHs, especially for the very low observed BLHs (< 100 m) during summer. The 222Rn activity concentration simulations based on the new 222Rn flux map show significant improvements especially regarding the average seasonal variability, compared to simulations using constant 222Rn fluxes. Nevertheless, the (relative) differences between simulated and observed daytime minimum 222Rn activity concentrations are larger for several stations (on the order of 50 %) compared to the (relative) differences between simulated and observed BLH at noon. Although the nocturnal BLH is often higher in the model than observed, simulated 222Rn nighttime maxima are larger at several continental stations, which points to potential deficiencies of TM5 to correctly simulate the vertical gradients within the nocturnal boundary layer, limitations of the 222Rn flux map, or issues related to the definition of the nocturnal BLH. At several stations the simulated decrease of 222Rn activity concentrations in the morning is faster than observed. In addition, simulated vertical 222Rn activity concentration gradients at Cabauw decrease faster than observations during the morning transition period, and are in general lower than observed gradients during daytime, which points to too fast vertical mixing in the TM5 boundary layer during daytime. Furthermore, the capability of the TM5 model to simulate the diurnal BLH cycle is limited due to the current coarse temporal resolution (3 hr/6 hr) of the TM5 input meteorology. Additionally, we analyze the impact of a new treatment of convection in TM5, based on the ECMWF reanalysis, leading to overall significantly lower (on the order of ~ 20 %) surface 222Rn activity concentrations during daytime compared to the current default convection scheme based on Tiedtke (1989). However, the performance of the model simulations compared to the 222Rn observations is very similar in terms of root mean square and correlation coefficient for both convection schemes.