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Pius Lee, Daiwen Kang, Jeff McQueen, Marina Tsidulko, Mary Hart, Geoff DiMego, Nelson Seaman, and Paula Davidson

Abstract

This study investigates the impact of model domain extent and the specification of lateral boundary conditions on the forecast quality of air pollution constituents in a specific region of interest. A developmental version of the national Air Quality Forecast System (AQFS) has been used in this study. The AQFS is based on the NWS/NCEP Eta Model (recently renamed the North American Mesoscale Model) coupled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model. This coupled Eta–CMAQ modeling system provided experimental air quality forecasts for the northeastern region of the United States during the summers of 2003 and 2004. The initial forecast over the northeastern United States was approved for operational deployment in September 2004. The AQFS will provide forecast coverage for the entire United States in the near future. In a continuing program of phased development to extend the geographical coverage of the forecast, the developmental version of AQFS has undergone two domain expansions. Hereinafter, this “developmental” domain-expanded forecast system AQFS will be dubbed AQFS-β. The current study evaluates the performance of AQFS-β for the northeastern United States using three domain sizes. Quantitative comparisons of forecast results with compiled observation data from the U.S. Aerometric Information Retrieval Now (AIRNOW) network were performed for each model domain, and interdomain comparisons were made for the regions of overlap. Several forecast skill score measures have been employed. Based on the categorical statistical metric of the critical success index, the largest domain achieved the highest skill score. This conclusion should catapult the implementation of the largest domain to attain the best forecast performance whenever the operational resource and criteria permit.

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