The influence of model spatial resolution on simulated ozone and fine particulate matter for Europe: Implications for health impact assessments

Sara Fenech*, Ruth M. Doherty, Clare Heaviside, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Helen Macintyre, Fiona M. O'Connor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

We examine the impact of model horizontal resolution on simulated concentrations of surface ozone (O3) and particulate matter less than 2.5μm in diameter (PM2.5), and the associated health impacts over Europe, using the HadGEM3-UKCA chemistry-climate model to simulate pollutant concentrations at a coarse (∼140km) and a finer (∼ 50km) resolution. The attributable fraction (AF) of total mortality due to long-term exposure to warm season daily maximum 8h running mean (MDA8) O3 and annual-average PM2.5 concentrations is then calculated for each European country using pollutant concentrations simulated at each resolution. Our results highlight a seasonal variation in simulated O3 and PM2.5 differences between the two model resolutions in Europe. Compared to the finer resolution results, simulated European O3 concentrations at the coarse resolution are higher on average in winter and spring (∼ 10 and ∼ 6%, respectively). In contrast, simulated O3 concentrations at the coarse resolution are lower in summer and autumn (∼ -1 and ∼ -4%, respectively). These differences may be partly explained by differences in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations simulated at the two resolutions. Compared to O3, we find the opposite seasonality in simulated PM2.5 differences between the two resolutions. In winter and spring, simulated PM2.5 concentrations are lower at the coarse compared to the finer resolution (∼-8 and ∼-6%, respectively) but higher in summer and autumn (∼ 29 and ∼ 8%, respectively). Simulated PM2.5 values are also mostly related to differences in convective rainfall between the two resolutions for all seasons. These differences between the two resolutions exhibit clear spatial patterns for both pollutants that vary by season, and exert a strong influence on country to country variations in estimated AF for the two resolutions. Warm season MDA8 O3 levels are higher in most of southern Europe, but lower in areas of northern and eastern Europe when simulated at the coarse resolution compared to the finer resolution. Annual-average PM2.5 concentrations are higher across most of northern and eastern Europe but lower over parts of southwest Europe at the coarse compared to the finer resolution. Across Europe, differences in the AF associated with long-term exposure to population-weighted MDA8 O3 range between -0.9 and +2.6% (largest positive differences in southern Europe), while differences in the AF associated with long-term exposure to population-weighted annual mean PM2.5 range from -4.7 to +2.8% (largest positive differences in eastern Europe) of the total mortality. Therefore this study, with its unique focus on Europe, demonstrates that health impact assessments calculated using modelled pollutant concentrations, are sensitive to a change in model resolution by up to ∼ ±5% of the total mortality across Europe.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5765-5784
Number of pages20
JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
Volume18
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements. Sara Fenech’s PhD was funded by Public Health England. The development of the United Kingdom Chemistry and Aerosol (UKCA) model and Fiona M. O’Connor are supported by the Joint UK BEIS/Defra Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme (GA01101).

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) 2018.

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