Articles | Volume 9, issue 5
Research article
03 May 2012
Research article |  | 03 May 2012

The influence of model grid resolution on estimation of national scale nitrogen deposition and exceedance of critical loads

A. J. Dore, M. Kryza, J. R. Hall, S. Hallsworth, V. J. D. Keller, M. Vieno, and M. A. Sutton

Abstract. The Fine Resolution Atmospheric Multi-pollutant Exchange model (FRAME) was applied to model the spatial distribution of reactive nitrogen deposition and air concentration over the United Kingdom at a 1 km spatial resolution. The modelled deposition and concentration data were gridded at resolutions of 1 km, 5 km and 50 km to test the sensitivity of calculations of the exceedance of critical loads for nitrogen deposition to the deposition data resolution. The modelled concentrations of NO2 were validated by comparison with measurements from the rural sites in the national monitoring network and were found to achieve better agreement with the high resolution 1 km data.

High resolution plots were found to represent a more physically realistic distribution of reactive nitrogen air concentrations and deposition resulting from use of 1 km resolution precipitation and emissions data as compared to 5 km resolution data. Summary statistics for national scale exceedance of the critical load for nitrogen deposition were not highly sensitive to the grid resolution of the deposition data but did show greater area exceedance with coarser grid resolution due to spatial averaging of high nitrogen deposition hot spots. Local scale deposition at individual Sites of Special Scientific Interest and high precipitation upland sites was sensitive to choice of grid resolution of deposition data. Use of high resolution data tended to generate lower deposition values in sink areas for nitrogen dry deposition (Sites of Scientific Interest) and higher values in high precipitation upland areas. In areas with generally low exceedance (Scotland) and for certain vegetation types (montane), the exceedance statistics were more sensitive to model data resolution.

Final-revised paper