Improved methodologies for Earth system modelling of atmospheric soluble iron and observation comparisons using the Mechanism of Intermediate complexity for Modelling Iron (MIMI v1.0)
Herein, we present a description of the Mechanism of Intermediate complexity for Modelling Iron (MIMI v1.0). This iron processing module was developed for use within Earth system models and has been updated within a modal aerosol framework from the original implementation in a bulk aerosol model. MIMI simulates the emission and atmospheric processing of two main sources of iron in aerosol prior to deposition: mineral dust and combustion processes. Atmospheric dissolution of insoluble to soluble iron is parameterized by an acidic interstitial aerosol reaction and a separate in-cloud aerosol reaction scheme based on observations of enhanced aerosol iron solubility in the presence of oxalate. Updates include a more comprehensive treatment of combustion iron emissions, improvements to the iron dissolution scheme, and an improved physical dust mobilization scheme. An extensive dataset consisting predominantly of cruise-based observations was compiled to compare to the model. The annual mean modelled concentration of surface-level total iron compared well with observations but less so in the soluble fraction (iron solubility) for which observations are much more variable in space and time. Comparing model and observational data is sensitive to the definition of the average as well as the temporal and spatial range over which it is calculated. Through statistical analysis and examples, we show that a median or log-normal distribution is preferred when comparing with soluble iron observations. The iron solubility calculated at each model time step versus that calculated based on a ratio of the monthly mean values, which is routinely presented in aerosol studies and used in ocean biogeochemistry models, is on average globally one-third (34 %) higher. We redefined ocean deposition regions based on dominant iron emission sources and found that the daily variability in soluble iron simulated by MIMI was larger than that of previous model simulations. MIMI simulated a general increase in soluble iron deposition to Southern Hemisphere oceans by a factor of 2 to 4 compared with the previous version, which has implications for our understanding of the ocean biogeochemistry of these predominantly iron-limited ocean regions.