Science Inventory

Impact of inherent meteorology uncertainty on air quality model predictions


Gilliam, R., C. Hogrefe, J. Godowitch, S. Napelenok, R. Mathur, AND S. Rao. Impact of inherent meteorology uncertainty on air quality model predictions. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-ATMOSPHERES. American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, 120(23):12,259–12,280, (2015).


The National Exposure Research Laboratory’s Atmospheric Modeling Division (AMAD) conducts research in support of EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. AMAD’s research program is engaged in developing and evaluating predictive atmospheric models on all spatial and temporal scales for forecasting the Nation’s air quality and for assessing changes in air quality and air pollutant exposures, as affected by changes in ecosystem management and regulatory decisions. AMAD is responsible for providing a sound scientific and technical basis for regulatory policies based on air quality models to improve ambient air quality. The models developed by AMAD are being used by EPA, NOAA, and the air pollution community in understanding and forecasting not only the magnitude of the air pollution problem, but also in developing emission control policies and regulations for air quality improvements.


It is well established that there are a number of different classifications and sources of uncertainties in environmental modeling systems. Air quality models rely on two key inputs, namely, meteorology and emissions. When using air quality models for decision making, it is important to understand how uncertainties in these inputs affect the simulated concentrations. Ensembles are one method to explore how uncertainty in meteorology affects air pollution concentrations. Most studies explore this uncertainty by running different meteorological models or the same model with different physics options and in some cases combinations of different meteorological and air quality models. While these have been shown to be useful techniques in some cases, we present a technique that leverages the initial condition perturbations of a weather forecast ensemble, namely, the Short-Range Ensemble Forecast system to drive the four-dimensional data assimilation in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF)-Community Multiscale Air Quality (CMAQ) model with a key focus being the response of ozone chemistry and transport. Results confirm that a sizable spread in WRF solutions, including common weather variables of temperature, wind, boundary layer depth, clouds, and radiation, can cause a relatively large range of ozone-mixing ratios. Pollutant transport can be altered by hundreds of kilometers over several days. Ozone-mixing ratios of the ensemble can vary as much as 10–20 ppb or 20–30% in areas that typically have higher pollution levels.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 12/16/2015
Record Last Revised: 04/26/2016
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 312591