Sulfate aerosols simulated by an aerosol module coupled to the Nonhydrostatic Icosahedral Atmospheric Model (NICAM) at a spatial resolution (220 km) widely used by global climate models were evaluated by a comparison with in situ observations and the same aerosol module coupled to the Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate (MIROC) over East Asia for January, April, July, and October 2006. The results indicated that a horizontal gradient of sulfate from the source over China to the outflow over Korea-Japan was present in both the simulations and the observations. At the observation sites, the correlation coefficients of the sulfate concentrations between the simulations and the observations were high (NICAM: 0.49–0.89, MIROC: 0.61–0.77), whereas the simulated sulfate concentrations were lower than those obtained by the observation with the normalized mean bias of NICAM being -68 to -54% (all), -77 to -63% (source), and -67 to -30% (outflow) and that of MIROC being -61 to -28% (all), -77 to -63% (source), and -60 to +2% (outflow). Both NICAM and MIROC strongly underpredict surface SO2 over China source regions and Korea-Japan outflow regions, but the MIROC SO2 is much higher than NICAM SO2 over both regions. These differences between the models were mainly explained by differences in the sulfate formation within clouds and the dry deposition of SO2. These results indicated that the uncertainty of the meteorological and cloud fields as well as the vertical transport patterns between the different host climate models has a substantial impact on the simulated sulfate distribution.
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