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Simulation of Atmospheric Circulation over Tahiti and of Local Effects on the Transport of 210Pb

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  • 1 Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique Département Analyse, Surveillance, Environnement Laboratoire de Détection et de Géophysique, Bruyères-Le-Châtel, France
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Abstract

Atmospheric transport of the natural radionuclide 210Pb is simulated by a general circulation model (GCM) and calculated surface concentrations are compared with those recorded at the Tahiti station on a daily scale. Numerical results for 2006 show the underestimation of concentrations for most recorded peaks. The purpose of this paper is to explain the observed discrepancies, to evaluate the GCM physical parameterizations, and to determine by numerical means the concentrations at Tahiti for a pollutant circulating across the South Pacific Ocean. Three meteorological situations in 2006 are further analyzed. Circulation over Tahiti for these periods is simulated by a mesoscale meteorological model using four nested grids with resolutions ranging from 27 to 1 km. The calculated wind fields are validated by those observed at two stations on the northwest coast of Tahiti, which is exposed both to topography-induced vortices and to thermally driven local breezes. Atmospheric dispersion of an offshore plume is then calculated by a particle Lagrangian transport model, driven by the mesoscale model at 1- and 81-km resolutions, representing local and global circulations, respectively. Simulations at 1-km resolution show the complex atmospheric circulation over Tahiti, which results in a large spatial and temporal variability of 210Pb surface concentrations on an hourly scale. The impact of local circulation is, however, limited when daily averaged concentrations at the station are considered. Under the studied regimes, transport simulations at the two resolutions lead to similar daily averaged concentrations. The deficiencies of the GCM in simulating daily averaged 210Pb concentrations could be attributable to the deep convection parameterization.

Corresponding author address: P. Heinrich, Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique Centre DAM-Ile de France, Bruyères-Le-Châtel, 91297 Arpajon CEDEX, France. Email: philippe.heinrich@cea.fr

Abstract

Atmospheric transport of the natural radionuclide 210Pb is simulated by a general circulation model (GCM) and calculated surface concentrations are compared with those recorded at the Tahiti station on a daily scale. Numerical results for 2006 show the underestimation of concentrations for most recorded peaks. The purpose of this paper is to explain the observed discrepancies, to evaluate the GCM physical parameterizations, and to determine by numerical means the concentrations at Tahiti for a pollutant circulating across the South Pacific Ocean. Three meteorological situations in 2006 are further analyzed. Circulation over Tahiti for these periods is simulated by a mesoscale meteorological model using four nested grids with resolutions ranging from 27 to 1 km. The calculated wind fields are validated by those observed at two stations on the northwest coast of Tahiti, which is exposed both to topography-induced vortices and to thermally driven local breezes. Atmospheric dispersion of an offshore plume is then calculated by a particle Lagrangian transport model, driven by the mesoscale model at 1- and 81-km resolutions, representing local and global circulations, respectively. Simulations at 1-km resolution show the complex atmospheric circulation over Tahiti, which results in a large spatial and temporal variability of 210Pb surface concentrations on an hourly scale. The impact of local circulation is, however, limited when daily averaged concentrations at the station are considered. Under the studied regimes, transport simulations at the two resolutions lead to similar daily averaged concentrations. The deficiencies of the GCM in simulating daily averaged 210Pb concentrations could be attributable to the deep convection parameterization.

Corresponding author address: P. Heinrich, Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique Centre DAM-Ile de France, Bruyères-Le-Châtel, 91297 Arpajon CEDEX, France. Email: philippe.heinrich@cea.fr

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