Evaluation of NU-WRF model performance on air quality simulation under various model resolutions – an investigation within the framework of MICS-Asia Phase III

Zhining Tao*, Mian Chin, Meng Gao, Tom Kucsera, Dongchul Kim, Huisheng Bian, Jun-ichi Kurokawa, Yuesi Wang, Zirui Liu, Gregory R. Carmichael, Zifa Wang, Hajime Akimoto

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    Horizontal grid resolution has a profound effect on model performances on meteorology and air quality simulations. In contribution to MICS-Asia Phase III, one of whose goals was to identify and reduce model uncertainty in air quality prediction, this study examined the impact of grid resolution on meteorology and air quality simulation over East Asia, focusing on the North China Plain (NCP) region. The NASA Unified Weather Research and Forecasting (NU-WRF) model has been applied with the horizontal resolutions at 45, 15, and 5 km. The results revealed that, in comparison with ground observations, no single resolution can yield the best model performance for all variables across all stations. From a regional average perspective (i.e., across all monitoring sites), air temperature modeling was not sensitive to the grid resolution but wind and precipitation simulation showed the opposite. NU-WRF with the 5 km grid simulated the wind speed best, while the 45 km grid yielded the most realistic precipitation as compared to the site observations. For air quality simulations, finer resolution generally led to better comparisons with observations for O3, CO, NOx, and PM2.5. However, the improvement of model performance on air quality was not linear with the resolution increase. The accuracy of modeled surface O3 of the 15 km grid was greatly improved over the one from the 45 km grid. A further increase in grid resolution to 5 km, however, showed diminished impact on model performance improvement on O3 prediction. In addition, a 5 km resolution grid showed large advantage in better capturing the frequency of high-pollution occurrences. This was important for the assessment of noncompliance with ambient air quality standards, which was key to air quality planning and management. Balancing the modeling accuracy and resource limitation, a 15 km grid resolution was suggested for future MICS-Asia air quality modeling activity if the research region remained unchanged. This investigation also found a large overestimate of ground-level O3 and an underestimate of surface NOx and CO, likely due to missing emissions of NOx and CO.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2319–2339
    Number of pages21
    JournalAtmospheric Chemistry and Physics
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2020


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