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Ho-Chun Huang
and
Kerry A. Emanuel

Abstract

The condensation of water vapor in the ascent region of frontal zones has been shown by many studies to increase substantially the rate of frontogenesis. Phase change of water substance in the downdraft has, however, received comparatively little attention. Here we add evaporation of falling rain to a semigeostrophic model of frontogenesis that also allows for condensation heating in the updraft, as in previous work. Evaporation of rain significantly increases the rate of frontogenesis and, more dramatically, leads to a strong, concentrated sloping downdraft just beneath the narrow sheet of saturated ascent.

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Zhining Tao
,
Allen Williams
,
Ho-Chun Huang
,
Michael Caughey
, and
Xin-Zhong Liang

Abstract

Different cumulus schemes cause significant discrepancies in simulated precipitation, cloud cover, and temperature, which in turn lead to remarkable differences in simulated biogenic volatile organic compound (BVOC) emissions and surface ozone concentrations. As part of an effort to investigate the impact (and its uncertainty) of climate changes on U.S. air quality, this study evaluates the sensitivity of BVOC emissions and surface ozone concentrations to the Grell (GR) and Kain–Fritsch (KF) cumulus parameterizations. Overall, using the KF scheme yields less cloud cover, larger incident solar radiation, warmer surface temperature, and higher boundary layer height and hence generates more BVOC emissions than those using the GR scheme. As a result, the KF (versus GR) scheme produces more than 10 ppb of summer mean daily maximum 8-h ozone concentration over broad regions, resulting in a doubling of the number of high-ozone occurrences. The contributions of meteorological conditions versus BVOC emissions on regional ozone sensitivities to the choice of the cumulus scheme largely offset each other in the California and Texas regions, but the contrast in BVOC emissions dominates over that in the meteorological conditions for ozone differences in the Midwest and Northeast regions. The result demonstrates the necessity of considering the uncertainty of future ozone projections that are identified with alternative model physics configurations.

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Ho-Chun Huang
,
Xin-Zhong Liang
,
Kenneth E. Kunkel
,
Michael Caughey
, and
Allen Williams

Abstract

The impacts of air pollution on the environment and human health could increase as a result of potential climate change. To assess such possible changes, model simulations of pollutant concentrations need to be performed at climatic (seasonal) rather than episodic (days) time scales, using future climate projections from a general circulation model. Such a modeling system was employed here, consisting of a regional climate model (RCM), an emissions model, and an air quality model. To assess overall model performance with one-way coupling, this system was used to simulate tropospheric ozone concentrations in the midwestern and northeastern United States for summer seasons between 1995 and 2000. The RCM meteorological conditions were driven by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction/Department of Energy global reanalysis (R-2) using the same procedure that integrates future climate model projections. Based on analyses for several urban and rural areas and regional domains, fairly good agreement with observations was found for the diurnal cycle and for several multiday periods of high ozone episodes. Even better agreement occurred between monthly and seasonal mean quantities of observed and model-simulated values. This is consistent with an RCM designed primarily to produce good simulations of monthly and seasonal mean statistics of weather systems.

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Pius Lee
,
Jeffery McQueen
,
Ivanka Stajner
,
Jianping Huang
,
Li Pan
,
Daniel Tong
,
Hyuncheol Kim
,
Youhua Tang
,
Shobha Kondragunta
,
Mark Ruminski
,
Sarah Lu
,
Eric Rogers
,
Rick Saylor
,
Perry Shafran
,
Ho-Chun Huang
,
Jerry Gorline
,
Sikchya Upadhayay
, and
Richard Artz

Abstract

The National Air Quality Forecasting Capability (NAQFC) upgraded its modeling system that provides developmental numerical predictions of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 μm in diameter (PM2.5) in January 2015. The issuance of PM2.5 forecast guidance has become more punctual and reliable because developmental PM2.5 predictions are provided from the same system that produces operational ozone predictions on the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) supercomputers.

There were three major upgrades in January 2015: 1) incorporation of real-time intermittent sources for particles emitted from wildfires and windblown dust originating within the NAQFC domain, 2) suppression of fugitive dust emissions from snow- and/or ice-covered terrain, and 3) a shorter life cycle for organic nitrate in the gaseous-phase chemical mechanism. In May 2015 a further upgrade for emission sources was included using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2011 National Emission Inventory (NEI). Emissions for ocean-going ships and on-road mobile sources will continue to rely on NEI 2005.

Incremental tests and evaluations of these upgrades were performed over multiple seasons. They were verified against the EPA’s AIRNow surface monitoring network for air pollutants. Impacts of the three upgrades on the prediction of surface PM2.5 concentrations show large regional variability: the inclusion of windblown dust emissions in May 2014 improved PM2.5 predictions over the western states and the suppression of fugitive dust in January 2015 reduced PM2.5 bias by 52%, from 6.5 to 3.1 μg m−3 against a monthly average of 9.4 μg m−3 for the north-central United States.

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Jianping Huang
,
Jeffery McQueen
,
James Wilczak
,
Irina Djalalova
,
Ivanka Stajner
,
Perry Shafran
,
Dave Allured
,
Pius Lee
,
Li Pan
,
Daniel Tong
,
Ho-Chun Huang
,
Geoffrey DiMego
,
Sikchya Upadhayay
, and
Luca Delle Monache

Abstract

Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter less than or equal to 2.5 μm (PM2.5) is a critical air pollutant with important impacts on human health. It is essential to provide accurate air quality forecasts to alert people to avoid or reduce exposure to high ambient levels of PM2.5. The NOAA National Air Quality Forecasting Capability (NAQFC) provides numerical forecast guidance of surface PM2.5 for the United States. However, the NAQFC forecast guidance for PM2.5 has exhibited substantial seasonal biases, with overpredictions in winter and underpredictions in summer. To reduce these biases, an analog ensemble bias correction approach is being integrated into the NAQFC to improve experimental PM2.5 predictions over the contiguous United States. Bias correction configurations with varying lengths of training periods (i.e., the time period over which searches for weather or air quality scenario analogs are made) and differing ensemble member size are evaluated for July, August, September, and November 2015. The analog bias correction approach yields substantial improvement in hourly time series and diurnal variation patterns of PM2.5 predictions as well as forecast skill scores. However, two prominent issues appear when the analog ensemble bias correction is applied to the NAQFC for operational forecast guidance. First, day-to-day variability is reduced after using bias correction. Second, the analog bias correction method can be limited in improving PM2.5 predictions for extreme events such as Fourth of July Independence Day firework emissions and wildfire smoke events. The use of additional predictors and longer training periods for analog searches is recommended for future studies.

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Glenn D. Rolph
,
Roland R. Draxler
,
Ariel F. Stein
,
Albion Taylor
,
Mark G. Ruminski
,
Shobha Kondragunta
,
Jian Zeng
,
Ho-Chun Huang
,
Geoffrey Manikin
,
Jeffery T. McQueen
, and
Paula M. Davidson

Abstract

An overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) current operational Smoke Forecasting System (SFS) is presented. This system is intended as guidance to air quality forecasters and the public for fine particulate matter (≤2.5 μm) emitted from large wildfires and agricultural burning, which can elevate particulate concentrations to unhealthful levels. The SFS uses National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) Hazard Mapping System (HMS), which is based on satellite imagery, to establish the locations and extents of the fires. The particulate matter emission rate is computed using the emission processing portion of the U.S. Forest Service’s BlueSky Framework, which includes a fuel-type database, as well as consumption and emissions models. The Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model is used to calculate the transport, dispersion, and deposition of the emitted particulate matter. The model evaluation is carried out by comparing predicted smoke levels with actual smoke detected from satellites by the HMS and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Aerosol/Smoke Product. This overlap is expressed as the figure of merit in space (FMS), the intersection over the union of the observed and calculated smoke plumes. Results are presented for the 2007 fire season (September 2006–November 2007). While the highest FMS scores for individual events approach 60%, average values for the 1 and 5 μg m−3 contours for the analysis period were 8.3% and 11.6%, respectively. FMS scores for the forecast period were lower by about 25% due, in part, to the inability to forecast new fires. The HMS plumes tend to be smaller than the corresponding predictions during the winter months, suggesting that excessive emissions predicted for the smaller fires resulted in an overprediction in the smoke area.

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