The European-scale atmospheric transport model MSCE-HM was developed for operational modelling of heavy metal (HM) transboundary pollution within the EMEP region in order to provide countries-participants of the Convention on Long-range Transboundary Air Pollution with information on atmospheric heavy metal pollution.


Model application

MSCE-HM model is used for the following purposes:

  • evaluation of atmospheric transport and deposition of HMs on regional (EMEP) and national (individual countries) scale
  • evaluation of transboundary transport of HMs
  • modeling of ecosystem-dependent depositions for evaluation of critical load exceedances (in cooperation with CCE)
  • assessment of temporal and spatial trends
  • projection of future levels of HM contamination and trends under various emission scenarios


Model description

The model scheme of heavy metal behaviour
in the atmosphere


The EMEP/MSC-E regional model of heavy metals airborne pollution (MSCE-HM) is a three-dimensional Eulerian-type chemical transport model driven by off-line meteorological data. The model considers heavy metal emissions from anthropogenic and natural sources, transport in the atmosphere, chemical transformations (of mercury only) both in gaseous and aqueous phases, and deposition to the surface (see figure). The model computation domain is defined on the polar stereographic projection and covers the standard EMEP region by a regular grid with 50x—50 km spatial resolution at 60°N. For national-scale applications finer resolution is used (e.g., 5x—5, 10—x10 km). Detailed description of the model is available in [Travnikov and Ilyin, 2005].

The vertical structure of the model is formulated in the sigma-pressure coordinate system. The model domain consists of 15 irregular sigma-layers and has a top at 100 hPa.

The atmospheric advection and the vertical transport are described in the model using mass conservative and monotone Bott`s advection scheme [Bott, 1989a; 1989b, 1992]. An implicit treatment of the vertical eddy diffusion is chosen in order to avoid restrictions on the integration time step because of possible sharp gradients of the pollutant mixing ratio.







Vertical grid structure of the model domain. 
The curves show boundaries of σ-layers


Such heavy metals as lead and cadmium and their compounds are characterized by very low volatility. It is assumed in the model that these metals (as well as some others (nickel, chromium, zinc etc.) are transported in the atmosphere only in the composition of aerosol particles. It is believed that their possible chemical transformations do not change properties of their carrying particles with regard to removal processes. On the contrary, mercury transformations in the atmosphere include transitions between the gaseous, aqueous and solid phases, chemical reactions in the gaseous and aqueous environment.

Model description of removal processes includes dry deposition and wet scavenging. The dry deposition scheme is based on the resistance analogy approach [Wesely and Hicks, 2000] and allows taking into account deposition to different land cover types (forests, grassland, water surface etc.). Dry deposition of particles to vegetation is described using the theoretical formulation by Slinn [1982] and fitted to experimental data [Ruijgrok et al., 1997; Wesely et al., 1985]. The parameterization of dry deposition to water surfaces is based on the approach suggested by Williams [1982] taking into account the effects of wave breaking and aerosol washout by seawater spray. The model distinguishes in-cloud and sub-cloud wet scavenging of particulate species and highly soluble reactive gaseous mercury based on empirical data. Besides, the precipitation rate is scaled for convective precipitation according to Walton et al. [1988] to take into account fractional coverage of a grid cell with precipitating clouds.

Wind re-suspension of particle-bound heavy metals (like lead and cadmium) from soil and seawater appears to be important process affecting ambient concentration and deposition of these pollutants, particularly, in areas with low direct anthropogenic emissions. Pilot parameterization of heavy metal wind re-suspension was included into the MSCE-HM model [Gusev et al., 2005; Ilyin et al., 2007]. The parameterization is based on approaches widely applied in contemporary mineral dust production models [e.g. Gomes et al., 2003; Zender et al., 2003]. Particularly, suspension of dust aerosol from soil is considered as combination of two major processes saltation and sandblasting presenting horizontal movement of large soil aggregates driven by wind stress and ejection of fine dust particles, respectively. The dust suspension is estimated for non-vegetated surfaces (deserts and bare soils, agricultural soils during the cultivation period, and urban areas). Generation of sea-salt and wind suspension of heavy metals from the sea surface is also considered based on the empirical Gong-Monahan parameterization [Gong, 2003].


Model evaluation

Model evaluation includes comparison of modelled concentrations and deposition with measurements, sensitivity studies and comparison of modelling results with the results obtained by other regional-scale transport models (so-called imtercomparison studies). Evaluation of modelling results against measurements is carried out every year, and is described in annual reports. Examination of model sensitivity and estimation of model-related uncertainties of calculated deposition and concentrations is described in MSC-E technical report [Travnikov and Ilyin, 2005]. Detailed information on the model intercomparison studies is available in technical reports and in peer-reviewed papers. MSCE-HM model has been reviewed at the EMEP/TFMM Workshop held in Moscow in October 2005. The Workshop concluded that the MSCE-HM model is suitable for the evaluation of the long-range transboundary transport and depositions of heavy metals in Europe (ECE/EB.AIR/GE.1/2006/4).


Further development

Along with MSCE-HM model there is ongoing development of the global multiscale modelling approach for heavy metals at MSC-E. The Global EMEP Multi-media Modelling System (GLEMOS) is being developed to evaluate HM pollution at different scales: global, regional, and local.



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Bott A. [1989b] Reply to comment on “A positive definite advection scheme obtained by nonlinear renormalization of the advective fluxes. Mon. Wea. Rev. 117, 2633-2636.

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Gusev A., O.Rozovskaya, V. Shatalov Modelling POP long-range transport and contamination levels by MSCE-POP model. EMEP/MSC-E Technical Report 1/2007.

Ilyin I., Rozovskaya O., Sokovykh V., and Travnikov O. [2007] Atmospheric modelling of heavy metal pollution in Europe: Further development and evaluation of the MSCE-HM model. EMEP/MSC-E Technical Report 2/2007, 52 p.

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