Significant variations of trace gas composition and aerosol properties at Mt. Cimone during air mass transport from North Africa – contributions from wildfire emissions and mineral dust
1ISAC-CNR, Via Gobetti 101, 40129 Bologna, Italy
2University of Urbino, Chemistry Institute, Urbino, Italy
3Italian Air Force, Centro Nazionale di Meteorologia e Climatologia (CNMCA), Pratica di Mare, Italy
4INFN, Florence, Italy
5University of Florence, Physics Department, Florence, Italy
6University of Ferrara, Physics Department, Ferrara, Italy
Abstract. High levels of trace gas (O3 and CO) and aerosol (BC, fine and coarse particles) concentrations, as well as high scattering coefficient (σs) values, were recorded at the regional GAW-WMO station of Mt. Cimone (MTC, 2165 m a.s.l., Italy) during the period 26–30 August 2007. Analysis of air-mass circulation, aerosol chemical characterization and trace gas and aerosol emission ratios (ERs), showed that high O3 and aerosol levels were likely linked to (i) the transport of anthropogenic pollution from Northern Italy, and (ii) the advection of air masses rich in mineral dust and biomass burning (BB) products from North Africa. In particular, during the advection of air masses from North Africa, the CO and aerosol levels (CO: 175 ppbv, BC: 1015 ng/m3, fine particle: 83.8 cm−3, σs: 84.5 Mm−1) were even higher than during the pollution event (CO: 138 ppbv, BC: 733 ng/m3, fine particles: 41.5 cm−3, σs: 44.9 Mm−1). Moreover, despite the presence of mineral dust able to significantly affect the O3 concentration, the analysis of ERs showed that the BB event represented an efficient source of fine aerosol particles (e.g. BC), but also of the O3 recorded at MTC. The results suggest that events of mineral dust mobilization and wildfire emissions over North Africa could significantly influence radiative properties (as deduced from σs observations at MTC) and air quality over the Mediterranean basin and Northern Italy. Since in the future it is expected that wildfire and Saharan dust transport frequency could increase in the Mediterranean basin due to more frequent and severe droughts, similar events will possibly play an important role in influencing the climate and the tropospheric composition over South Europe.