Microscale anthropogenic pollution modelling in a small tropical island during weak trade winds: Lagrangian particle dispersion simulations using real nested LES meteorological fields

Cécé, Raphaël ; Bernard, Didier ; Brioude, Jérome ; Zahibo, Narcisse

Année de publication
Tropical islands are characterized by thermal and orographical forcings which may generate microscale air mass circulations. The Lesser Antilles Arc includes small tropical islands (width lower than 50 km) where a total of one-and-a-half million people live. Air quality over this region is affected by anthropogenic and volcanic emissions, or saharan dust. To reduce risks for the population health, the atmospheric dispersion of emitted pollutants must be predicted. In this study, the dispersion of anthropogenic nitrogen oxides (NOx) is numerically modelled over the densely populated area of the Guadeloupe archipelago under weak trade winds, during a typical case of severe pollution. The main goal is to analyze how microscale resolutions affect air pollution in a small tropical island. Three resolutions of domain grid are selected: 1 km, 333 m and 111 m. The Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF) is used to produce real nested microscale meteorological fields. Then the weather outputs initialize the Lagrangian Particle Dispersion Model (FLEXPART). The forward simulations of a power plant plume showed good ability to reproduce nocturnal peaks recorded by an urban air quality station. The increase in resolution resulted in an improvement of model sensitivity. The nesting to subkilometer grids helped to reduce an overestimation bias mainly because the LES domains better simulate the turbulent motions governing nocturnal flows. For peaks observed at two air quality stations, the backward sensitivity outputs identified realistic sources of NOx in the area. The increase in resolution produced a sharper inverse plume with a more accurate source area. This study showed the first application of the FLEXPART-WRF model to microscale resolutions. Overall, the coupling model WRF-LES-FLEXPART is useful to simulate the pollutant dispersion during a real case of calm wind regime over a complex terrain area. The forward and backward simulation results showed clearly that the subkilometer resolution of 333 m is necessary to reproduce realistic air pollution patterns in this case of short-range transport over a complex terrain area. Globally, this work contributes to enrich the sparsely documented domain of real nested microscale air pollution modelling. This study dealing with the determination of the proper resolution grid and proper turbulence scheme, is of significant interest to the near-source and complex terrain air quality research community.
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