Effects of point source emission heights in WRF-STILT: a step towards exploiting nocturnal observations in models.

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From: Geoscientific Model Development(Vol. 15, Issue 13)
Publisher: Copernicus GmbH
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 392 words

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Abstract :

An appropriate representation of point source emissions in atmospheric transport models is very challenging. In the Stochastic Time-Inverted Lagrangian Transport model (STILT), all point source emissions are typically released from the surface, meaning that the actual emission stack height plus subsequent plume rise is not considered. This can lead to erroneous predictions of trace gas concentrations, especially during nighttime when vertical atmospheric mixing is minimal. In this study we use two Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)-STILT model approaches to simulate fossil fuel CO.sub.2 (ffCO.sub.2) concentrations: (1) the standard "surface source influence (SSI)" approach and (2) an alternative "volume source influence (VSI)" approach where nearby point sources release CO.sub.2 according to their effective emission height profiles. The comparison with .sup.14 C-based measured ffCO.sub.2 data from 2-week integrated afternoon and nighttime samples collected at Heidelberg, 30 m above ground level shows that the root-mean-square deviation (RMSD) between modelled and measured ffCO.sub.2 is indeed almost twice as high during the night (RMSD =6.3 ppm) compared to the afternoon (RMSD =3.7 ppm) when using the standard SSI approach. In contrast, the VSI approach leads to a much better performance at nighttime (RMSD =3.4 ppm), which is similar to its performance during afternoon (RMSD =3.7 ppm). Representing nearby point source emissions with the VSI approach could thus be a first step towards exploiting nocturnal observations in STILT. The ability to use nighttime observations in atmospheric inversions would dramatically increase the observational data and allow for the investigation of different source mixtures or diurnal cycles. To further investigate the differences between these two approaches, we conducted a model experiment in which we simulated the ffCO.sub.2 contributions from 12 artificial power plants with typical annual emissions of 1 million tonnes of CO.sub.2 and with distances between 5 and 200 km from the Heidelberg observation site. We find that such a power plant must be more than 50 km away from the observation site in order for the mean modelled ffCO.sub.2 concentration difference between the SSI and VSI approach to fall below 0.1 ppm during situations with low mixing heights smaller than 500 m.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A710218018