Sakine Takache


Towards Multi-Scale Transport of Sharp Plumes

Date 06/12/2021 14:30
Diplôme Institut polytechnique de Paris
Lieu Amphithéâtre Becquerel - Ecole Polytechnique, Route de Saclay, 91120 Palaiseau (also, a link for remote attendance will be provided upon request)


The distribution of aerosols and trace gases in the atmosphere results from the emission of primary gaseous and particulate matter, as well as their transport, sedimentation and (photo-)chemical transformations. Understanding and quantifying these processes in the atmosphere can be addressed through the use of global-scale or regional-scale chemistry-transport numerical models.

CHIMERE is a chemistry-transport model developed mainly at LMD (Mailler et al., 2017). Initially targeted to urban and regional scales, it was recently extended to hemispheric scales in order to address these processes on a wider range. While theoretically possible, it is impractical to use this model to represent interactions between small-scale processes (e.g. pollution in the urban atmospheric boundary layer) and large-scale processes (e.g. intercontinental transport) controlling sharp plumes of gas and aerosols, resulting for instance from massive emissions by volcanic eruptions, forest fires and desert aerosol tempests. Indeed such studies requiring both large domains and high resolution have a prohibitive numerical cost due to the formulation of CHIMERE on a regular Cartesian mesh. This limitation is shared by all currently operational chemistry-transport models (CTMs). Additionally, traditional Cartesian longitude-latitude meshes pose a numerical singularity at the poles, where the longitude lines converge.

One way to lift these limitations would be to replace CHIMERE’s Cartesian mesh by a fully unstructured mesh. Unstructured meshes support variable resolution in space, allowing computational resources to be focused in those few key regions (e.g. volcanic eruption) where high spatial resolution is really required. Allowing such multi-scale capacity would be a significant step forward in the modelling of scale interactions in atmospheric chemistry, and would potentially allow breakthrough for the understanding of such interactions.

DYNAMICO, the atmospheric general circulation model recently developed at LMD and LSCE (Dubos et al., 2015) supports unstructured spherical Voronoi meshes. It is the goal of this PhD project to contribute to the assessment of the viability of numerical methods borrowed from DYNAMICO for large-scale transport of sharp plumes. To this end, we compare the numerical performance of transport schemes formulated on spherical unstructured meshes (Dubey and Dubos, 2015) with schemes formulated on Cartesian spherical meshes avoiding the poles. Schemes of various order and different treatments of time integration are implemented in each mesh framework. A suite of test cases is used to evaluate different properties of the mesh-scheme pairings. Various metrics are used to study stability, monotonicity, convergence and numerical diffusion. While it could be anticipated that Cartesian schemes perform better than their unstructured counterpart of similar complexity, we find that a scheme of the Van Leer family on the unstructured mesh has a comparable performance to a similar scheme on a Cartesian mesh, which is the default scheme used operationally by CHIMERE. Beyond these idealized two-dimensional numerical experiments, we compare the performance of the two schemes in a realistic, three-dimensional setting mimicking the eruption of the Puyehue volcano in 2011. This necessary milestone is to be complemented by experiments with variable-resolution meshes leading to a full assessment of the merits of multi-scale-modelling chemistry-transport applications.

Composition du jury

Riwal Plougonven, Professeur – ́Ecole Polytechnique (LMD): Président
Yelva Roustan, Chargé de recherche – ́Ecole des Ponts Paristech / EDF (CEREA): Rapporteur
Frédéric Chevallier, Directeur de recherche – Institut Pierre-Simon Laplace / CEA (LSCE): Rapporteur
Christine Lac, Directrice de recherche – Météo-France (CNRM): Examinatrice
Emmanuel Audusse, Maıtre de conférences – Université Sorbonne Paris Nord (LAGA): Examinateur
Thomas Dubos, Professeur – ́Ecole Polytechnique (LMD): Directeur de thèse
Sylvain Mailler, Ingénieur des Ponts, des Eaux et Forêts – ́Ecole des Ponts ParisTech (LMD): Co-encadrant de thèse