AeroCom INSITU Project: Comparison of Aerosol Optical Properties from In-situ Surface Measurements and Model Simulations

Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Lauren Schmeisser, University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States; NOAA Boulder, ESRL/GMD, Boulder, CO, United States
AeroCom, an open international collaboration of scientists seeking to improve global aerosol models, recently initiated a project comparing model output to in-situ, surface-based measurements of aerosol optical properties. The model/measurement comparison project, called INSITU, aims to evaluate the performance of a suite of AeroCom aerosol models with site-specific observational data in order to inform iterative improvements to model aerosol modules. Surface in-situ data have the unique property of being traceable to physical standards, which is a big asset in accomplishing the overarching goal of bettering the accuracy of aerosol processes and predicative capability of global climate models. The INSITU project looks at how well models reproduce aerosol climatologies on a variety of time scales, aerosol characteristics and behaviors (e.g., aerosol persistence and the systematic relationships between aerosol optical properties), and aerosol trends. Though INSITU is a multi-year endeavor, preliminary phases of the analysis, using GOCART and other models participating in this AeroCom project, show substantial model biases in absorption and scattering coefficients compared to surface measurements, though the sign and magnitude of the bias varies with location and optical property. Spatial patterns in the biases highlight model weaknesses, e.g., the inability of models to properly simulate aerosol characteristics at sites with complex topography (see Figure 1). Additionally, differences in modeled and measured systematic variability of aerosol optical properties suggest that some models are not accurately capturing specific aerosol co-dependencies, for example, the tendency of in-situ surface single scattering albedo to decrease with decreasing aerosol extinction coefficient. This study elucidates specific problems with current aerosol models and suggests additional model runs and perturbations that could further evaluate the discrepancies between measured and modeled aerosol optical properties.