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The role of the atmospheric aerosol in weather forecasts for the Iberian peninsula: investigating the direct effects using WRF-Chem model

Silveira, Carlos; Martins, Ana; Gouveia, Sónia; Scotto, Manuel; Miranda, Ana I.; Monteiro, Alexandra

Atmosphere, 12 (2021), 288

In the atmosphere, aerosols play an important role in climate change, the Earth’s environment and human health. The purpose of this study is to investigate the direct and semi-direct aerosol effects on weather forecasting, focusing on the Iberian Peninsula (IP). To that end, two Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)-Chem simulations (with and without aerosol feedback) for an entire year (2015) were performed. The model setup includes two nested domains run in two-way mode, allowing the downscaling for the IP domain at a 5 × 5 km2 high-horizontal resolution. The results were explored through agreement of pairs of time series and their spatial variability in order to analyse the importance of including the online-coupled aerosol radiative effect on the meteorological variables: shortwave (solar) radiation, air temperature and precipitation. Significant variations of agreement were found when capturing both temporal and spatial patterns of the analysed meteorological variables. While the spatial distribution of temperature and precipitation is similar throughout the IP domain, with agreement values ranging from 0.87 up to 1.00, the solar radiation presents a distinct spatial pattern with lower agreement values (0.68–0.75) over ocean and higher agreement (0.75–0.98) over land regions. With regard to the spatial differences between simulations, the aerosol contributed to a considerable decrease in annual mean and maximum radiation (up to 20 and 40 Wm, respectively), slightly impacting the temperature variation (up to 0.5 °C). These results suggest that the aerosol feedback effects should be accounted when performing weather forecasts, and not only for purposes of air quality assessment