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Comparing Standard to Feature-Based Meteorological Model Evaluation Techniques in Bogotá, Colombia

Robert Nedbor-GrossEngineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

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Barron H. HendersonEngineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

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Justin R. DavisEngineering School of Sustainable Infrastructure and Environment, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

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Jorge E. PachónCentro Lasallista de Investigación y Modelación Ambiental, Universidad de la Salle, Bogotá, Colombia

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Alexander RincónSecretaría Distrital de Ambiente, Bogotá, Colombia

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Oscar J. GuerreroSecretaría Distrital de Ambiente, Bogotá, Colombia

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Freddy GrajalesSecretaría Distrital de Ambiente, Bogotá, Colombia

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Abstract

Standard meteorological model performance evaluation (sMPE) can be insufficient in determining “fitness” for air quality modeling. An sMPE compares predictions of meteorological variables with community-based thresholds. Conceptually, these thresholds measure the model’s capability to represent mesoscale features that cause variability in air pollution. A method that instead examines features could provide a better estimate of fitness. This work compares measures of fitness from sMPE analysis with a feature-based MPE (fMPE). Meteorological simulations for Bogotá, Colombia, using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model provide an ideal case study that highlights the importance of fMPE. Bogotá is particularly interesting because the complex topography presents challenges for WRF in sMPE. A cluster analysis identified four dominant meteorological features associated with air quality driven by wind patterns. The model predictions are able to pass several sMPE thresholds but show poor performance for wind direction. The base simulation can be improved with alternative surface characterization datasets for terrain, soil classification, and land use. Despite doubling the number of days with acceptable specific humidity, overall acceptability was never more than 10%. By comparison, an fMPE showed that predictions were able to reproduce the air-quality-relevant features on 38.4% of the days. The fMPE is based on features derived from an observational cluster analysis that have clear relationships with air quality, which suggests that reproducing those features will indicate better air quality model performance. An fMPE may be particularly useful for high-resolution modeling (1 km or less) when finescale variability can cause poor sMPE performance even when the general pattern that drives air pollution is well reproduced.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author e-mail: Robert Nedbor-Gross, rnedbor1@ufl.edu

Abstract

Standard meteorological model performance evaluation (sMPE) can be insufficient in determining “fitness” for air quality modeling. An sMPE compares predictions of meteorological variables with community-based thresholds. Conceptually, these thresholds measure the model’s capability to represent mesoscale features that cause variability in air pollution. A method that instead examines features could provide a better estimate of fitness. This work compares measures of fitness from sMPE analysis with a feature-based MPE (fMPE). Meteorological simulations for Bogotá, Colombia, using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model provide an ideal case study that highlights the importance of fMPE. Bogotá is particularly interesting because the complex topography presents challenges for WRF in sMPE. A cluster analysis identified four dominant meteorological features associated with air quality driven by wind patterns. The model predictions are able to pass several sMPE thresholds but show poor performance for wind direction. The base simulation can be improved with alternative surface characterization datasets for terrain, soil classification, and land use. Despite doubling the number of days with acceptable specific humidity, overall acceptability was never more than 10%. By comparison, an fMPE showed that predictions were able to reproduce the air-quality-relevant features on 38.4% of the days. The fMPE is based on features derived from an observational cluster analysis that have clear relationships with air quality, which suggests that reproducing those features will indicate better air quality model performance. An fMPE may be particularly useful for high-resolution modeling (1 km or less) when finescale variability can cause poor sMPE performance even when the general pattern that drives air pollution is well reproduced.

© 2017 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author e-mail: Robert Nedbor-Gross, rnedbor1@ufl.edu
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