Long-Range Transport of Anthropogenically and Naturally Produced Particulate Matter in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic: Current State of Knowledge

George Kallos Atmospheric Modeling and Weather Forecasting Group, School of Physics, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Marina Astitha Atmospheric Modeling and Weather Forecasting Group, School of Physics, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Petros Katsafados Atmospheric Modeling and Weather Forecasting Group, School of Physics, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Chris Spyrou Atmospheric Modeling and Weather Forecasting Group, School of Physics, University of Athens, Athens, Greece

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Abstract

During the past 20 years, organized experimental campaigns as well as continuous development and implementation of air-pollution modeling have led to significant gains in the understanding of the paths and scales of pollutant transport and transformation in the greater Mediterranean region (GMR). The work presented in this paper has two major objectives: 1) to summarize the existing knowledge on the transport paths of particulate matter (PM) in the GMR and 2) to illustrate some new findings related to the transport and transformation properties of PM in the GMR. Findings from previous studies indicate that anthropogenically produced air pollutants from European sources can be transported over long distances, reaching Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, and North America. The PM of natural origin, like Saharan dust, can be transported toward the Atlantic Ocean and North America mostly during the warm period of the year. Recent model simulations and studies in the area indicate that specific long-range transport patterns of aerosols, such as the transport from Asia and the Indian Ocean, central Africa, or America, have negligible or at best limited contribution to air-quality degradation in the GMR when compared with the other sources. Also, new findings from this work suggest that the imposed European Union limits on PM cannot be applicable for southern Europe unless the origin (natural or anthropogenic) of the PM is taken into account. The impacts of high PM levels in the GMR are not limited only to air quality, but also include serious implications for the water budget and the regional climate. These are issues that require extensive investigation because the processes involved are complex, and further model development is needed to include the relevant physicochemical processes properly.

Corresponding author address: George Kallos, Bldg. PHYS-V, University Campus, Laboratory of Meteorology, Department of Applied Physics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens 15784, Greece. Email: kallos@mg.uoa.gr

This article included in the NOAA/EPA Golden Jubilee special collection.

Abstract

During the past 20 years, organized experimental campaigns as well as continuous development and implementation of air-pollution modeling have led to significant gains in the understanding of the paths and scales of pollutant transport and transformation in the greater Mediterranean region (GMR). The work presented in this paper has two major objectives: 1) to summarize the existing knowledge on the transport paths of particulate matter (PM) in the GMR and 2) to illustrate some new findings related to the transport and transformation properties of PM in the GMR. Findings from previous studies indicate that anthropogenically produced air pollutants from European sources can be transported over long distances, reaching Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, and North America. The PM of natural origin, like Saharan dust, can be transported toward the Atlantic Ocean and North America mostly during the warm period of the year. Recent model simulations and studies in the area indicate that specific long-range transport patterns of aerosols, such as the transport from Asia and the Indian Ocean, central Africa, or America, have negligible or at best limited contribution to air-quality degradation in the GMR when compared with the other sources. Also, new findings from this work suggest that the imposed European Union limits on PM cannot be applicable for southern Europe unless the origin (natural or anthropogenic) of the PM is taken into account. The impacts of high PM levels in the GMR are not limited only to air quality, but also include serious implications for the water budget and the regional climate. These are issues that require extensive investigation because the processes involved are complex, and further model development is needed to include the relevant physicochemical processes properly.

Corresponding author address: George Kallos, Bldg. PHYS-V, University Campus, Laboratory of Meteorology, Department of Applied Physics, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens 15784, Greece. Email: kallos@mg.uoa.gr

This article included in the NOAA/EPA Golden Jubilee special collection.

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