We have developed a simplified aerosol model together with its tangent linear and adjoint versions for the ultimate aim of optimizing global aerosol and aerosol precursor emission using variational data assimilation. The model was derived from the general circulation model LMDz; it groups together the 24 aerosol species simulated in LMDz into 4 species, namely gaseous precursors, fine mode aerosols, coarse mode desert dust and coarse mode sea salt. The emissions have been kept as in the original model. Modifications, however, were introduced in the computation of aerosol optical depth and in the processes of sedimentation, dry and wet deposition and sulphur chemistry to ensure consistency with the new set of species and their composition.
The simplified model successfully manages to reproduce the main features of the aerosol distribution in LMDz. The largest differences in aerosol load are observed for fine mode aerosols and gaseous precursors. Differences between the original and simplified models are mainly associated to the new deposition and sedimentation velocities consistent with the definition of species in the simplified model and the simplification of the sulphur chemistry. Furthermore, simulated aerosol optical depth remains within the variability of monthly AERONET observations for all aerosol types and all sites throughout most of the year. Largest differences are observed over sites with strong desert dust influence. In terms of the daily aerosol variability, the model is less able to reproduce the observed variability from the AERONET data with larger discrepancies in stations affected by industrial aerosols. The simplified model however, closely follows the daily simulation from LMDz.
Sensitivity analyses with the tangent linear version show that the simplified sulphur chemistry is the dominant process responsible for the strong non-linearity of the model.