Continental pollution in the western Mediterranean basin: vertical profiles of aerosol and trace gases measured over the sea during TRAQA 2012 and SAFMED 2013
Abstract. In this study we present airborne observations of aerosol and trace gases obtained over the sea in the western Mediterranean basin during the TRAQA (TRansport and Air QuAlity) and SAFMED (Secondary Aerosol Formation in the MEDiterranean) campaigns in summer 2012 and 2013. A total of 23 vertical profiles were measured up to 5000 m above sea level over an extended area (40–45° N and 2° W–12° E) including the Gulf of Genoa, southern France, the Gulf of Lion, and the Spanish coast. During TRAQA and SAFMED the study area experienced a wide range of meteorological conditions which favoured pollution export from different sources located around the basin. Also, several events of dust outflows were measured during the campaigns. Observations from the present study show that continental pollution largely affects the western Mediterranean both close to coastal regions and in the open sea as far as ~ 250 km from the coastline. The measured aerosol scattering coefficient varies between ~ 20 and 120 Mm−1, while carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3) mixing ratios are in the range of 60–165 and 30–85 ppbv, respectively. Pollution reaches 3000–4000 m in altitude and presents a very complex and highly stratified structure characterized by fresh and aged layers both in the boundary layer and in the free troposphere. Within pollution plumes the measured particle concentration in the Aitken (0.004–0.1 μm) and accumulation (0.1–1.0 μm) modes is between ~ 30 and 5000–6000 scm−3 (standard cm−3), which is comparable to the aerosol concentration measured in continental areas under pollution conditions. Additionally, our measurements indicate the presence of highly concentrated Aitken layers (10 000–15 000 scm−3) observed both close to the surface and in the free troposphere, possibly linked to the influence of new particle formation (NPF) episodes over the basin.