EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

A quasi-operational air quality forecasting system for the contiguous United States (CONUS) 

Rajesh Kumar, Gabriele Pfister, and Piyush Bhardwaj
Rajesh Kumar et al.
  • NCAR, United States of America (

We present a research system for regional air quality forecasting over  the contiguous United States (CONUS). This system has been developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) to support community model development, allow early identification of model errors and biases, and support the atmospheric science community in their research. At the same time, it assists field campaign planning and air quality decision-making. The forecasts aim to complement the operational air quality forecasts produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and not to replace them. A publicly available information dissemination system has been established that displays various air quality products including a near-real-time evaluation of the model forecasts. Our forecasting system has been producing a 48-h forecast every day at 12 km x 12 km grid spacing over the entire CONUS since June 2019 and at 4 km x 4 km grid spacing in Colorado since June 2020. Here, we will report on the performance of our air quality forecasting system in simulating meteorology, PM2.5, ozone, and NOx for the period of 1 June 2019 to 31 December 2020. Our system showed excellent skill in capturing hourly to daily variations in temperature, surface pressure, relative humidity, water vapor mixing ratios, and wind direction but showed, in parts, relatively larger errors in wind speed. The model captured the seasonal cycle of surface PM2.5 and ozone very well in different regions of CONUS and at different types of sites (urban, suburban, and rural) but generally overestimates summertime surface ozone and fails to capture very high surface PM2.5 events. These shortcomings are being addressed in current work. The skill of the air quality forecasts remains fairly stable between the first and second days of the forecasts. Our air quality forecast products are publicly available at and we invite the community to use our forecasting products for their research, as input for urban scale (< 4 km) air quality forecasts, or the co-development of customized products just to name a few applications.

How to cite: Kumar, R., Pfister, G., and Bhardwaj, P.: A quasi-operational air quality forecasting system for the contiguous United States (CONUS) , EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-3221,, 2021.


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