Dynamics-aerosol-chemistry-cloud interactions in West Africa
Research Publications
Cloud-Aerosol Interactions
28 September 2018
Can the Direct Effect of Aerosols Improve Subseasonal Predictability?
Publication: AMS Monthly Weather Review (146, 3481–3498,)
DOI Number: 10.1175/MWR-D-17-0282.1
Author: Benedetti, A. and F. Vitart
The fact that aerosols are important players in Earth’s radiation balance is well accepted by the scientific community. Several studies have shown the importance of characterizing aerosols in order to constrain surface radiative fluxes and temperature in climate runs. In numerical weather prediction, however, there has not been definite proof that interactive aerosol schemes are needed to improve the forecast. Climatologies are instead used that allow for computational efficiency and reasonable accuracy. At the monthly to subseasonal range, it is still worth investigating whether aerosol variability could afford some predictability, considering that it is likely that persisting aerosol biases might manifest themselves more over time scales of weeks to months and create a nonnegligible forcing. This paper explores this hypothesis using the ECMWF’s Ensemble Prediction System for subseasonal prediction with interactive prognostic aerosols. Four experiments are conducted with the aim of comparing the monthly prediction by the default system, which uses aerosol climatologies, with the prediction using radiatively interactive aerosols. Only the direct aerosol effect is considered. Twelve years of reforecasts with 50 ensemble members are analyzed on the monthly scale. Results indicate that the interactive aerosols have the capability of improving the subseasonal prediction at the monthly scales for the spring/summer season. It is hypothesized that this is due to the aerosol variability connected to the different phases of the Madden–Julian oscillation, particularly that of dust and carbonaceous aerosols. The degree of improvement depends crucially on the aerosol initialization. More work is required to fully assess the potential of interactive aerosols to increase predictability at the subseasonal scales.