1Department of Meteorology and Climatology, School of Geology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, University Campus, Thessaloniki, Greece
2Energy, Environment and Water Research Center, The Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, Cyprus
3Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
4Climatology, Climate Dynamics and Climate Change, Department of Geography, Justus-Liebig University of Giessen, Germany
5Environmental Chemical Processes Laboratory, Department of Chemistry, University of Crete, Heraklion, Greece
Abstract. Observations show that the Mediterranean troposphere is characterized by a marked enhancement in summertime ozone with a maximum over the Eastern Mediterranean. This has been linked to enhanced ozone photochemical production and subsidence under cloud-free anticyclonic conditions. The Eastern Mediterranean region has among the highest levels of background tropospheric ozone around the globe and it can be considered as a global air pollution hotspot. A 12 yr climatological analysis (1998–2009) of free tropospheric ozone was carried out over the region based on ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) ERA-interim reanalysis data and simulations with the EMAC (ECHAM5-MESSy for Atmospheric Chemistry) atmospheric chemistry climate model. EMAC is nudged towards the ECMWF analysis data and includes a stratospheric ozone tracer. A characteristic summertime pool with high ozone concentrations is found in the middle troposphere over the Eastern Mediterranean/Middle East (EMME) by ERA-interim ozone data, which is supported by Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer (TES) satellite ozone data and simulations with EMAC. The enhanced ozone over the EMME is a robust feature, propagating down to lower free tropospheric levels. The investigation of ozone in relation to potential vorticity and water vapour and the stratospheric ozone tracer indicates that the dominant mechanism causing the free tropospheric ozone pool is downward transport from the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere associated with the enhanced subsidence and the limited outflow transport that dominates the summertime EMME circulation. The implications of these summertime high free tropospheric ozone values on the seasonal cycle of near surface ozone over the Mediterranean are discussed.