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Chan, Ka Lok; Wiegner, Matthias; Flentje, Harald; Mattis, Ina; Wagner, Frank; Gasteiger, Josef; Geiss, Alexander (2018): Evaluation of ECMWF-IFS (version 41R1) operational model forecasts of aerosol transport by using ceilometer network measurements. In: Geoscientific Model Development, Vol. 11, No. 9: pp. 3807-3831
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Abstract

In this paper, we present a comparison of model simulations of aerosol profiles with measurements of the ceilometer network operated by the German Weather Service (DWD) over 1 year from September 2015 to August 2016. The aerosol forecasts are produced by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) using the aerosol module developed within the Global and regional Earth-system Monitoring using Satellite and in-situ data (GEMS) and Monitoring Atmospheric Composition and Climate (MACC) projects and coupled into the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Integrated Forecasting System (ECMWF-IFS). As the model output provides mass mixing ratios of different types of aerosol, whereas the ceilometers do not, it is necessary to determine a common physical quantity for the comparison. We have chosen the attenuated backscatter beta* for this purpose. The beta* profiles are calculated from the mass mixing ratios of the model output assuming the inherent aerosol microphysical properties. Comparison of the attenuated backscatter averaged between an altitude of 0.2 km (typical overlap range of ceilometers) and 1 km in general shows similar annual average values. However, the standard deviation of the difference between model and observation is larger than the average in 8 out of 12 sites. To investigate possible reasons for the differences, we have examined the role of the hygroscopic growth of particles and the particle shape. Our results show that using a more recent particle growth model would result in a similar to 22% reduction of particle backscatter for sea salt aerosols, corresponding to a 10% reduction of the total backscatter signal on average. Accounting for nonspherical dust particles in the model would reduce attenuated backscatter of dust particles by similar to 30 %. As the concentration of dust aerosol is in general very low in Germany, a significant effect on the total backscatter signal is restricted to dust episodes. In summary, consideration of both effects tends to improve the agreement between model and observations but without leading to a perfect consistency. In addition, a strong Saharan dust event was investigated to study the agreement of the spatiotemporal distribution of particles. It was found that the arrival time of the dust layer and its vertical extent very well agree between model and ceilometer measurements for several stations. This underlines the potential of a network of ceilometers to validate the dispersion of aerosol layers.