Atmospheric Environment, 32(24):4245-4264, 1998. Paper Website abstract bibtex
A comprehensive validation of FLEXPART, a recently developed Lagrangian particle dispersion model based on meteorological data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, is described in this paper. Measurement data from three large-scale tracer experiments, the Cross-Appalachian Tracer Experiment (CAPTEX), the Across North America Tracer Experiment (ANATEX) and the European Tracer Experiment (ETEX) are used for this purpose. The evaluation is based entirely on comparisons of model results and measurements paired in space and time. It is found that some of the statistical parameters often used for model validation are extremely sensitive to small measurement errors and should not be used in future studies. 40 cases of tracer dispersion are studied, allowing a validation of the model performance under a variety of different meteorological conditions. The model usually performs very well under undisturbed meteorological conditions, but it is less skilful in the presence of fronts. The two ETEX cases reveal the full range of the model’s skill, with the first one being among the best cases studied, and the second one being, by far, the worst. The model performance in terms of the statistical parameters used stays rather constant with time over the periods (up to 117h) studied here. It is shown that the method used to estimate the concentrations at the receptor locations has a significant effect on the evaluation results. The vertical wind component sometimes has a large influence on the model results, but on the average only a slight improvement over simulations which neglect the vertical wind can be demonstrated. Subgrid variability of mixing heights is important and must be accounted for.