Exploring atmospheric boundary layer characteristics in a severe SO2 episode in the north-eastern Adriatic
- 1Andrija Mohorovičić Geophysical Institute, Department of Geophysics, Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb, Croatia
- 2Meteorological and Hydrological Service of Croatia, Zagreb, Croatia
- 3Laboratory of Geoinformatics and Environmental Application, Department of Marine Sciences, University of the Aegean, 81100 Mytilene, Greece
Abstract. Stable atmospheric conditions are often connected with the occurrence of high pollution episodes especially in urban or industrial areas. In this work we investigate a severe SO2 episode observed on 3–5 February 2002 in a coastal industrial town of Rijeka, Croatia, where very high daily mean concentrations (up to 353.5 μg m−3) were measured. The episode occurred under high air pressure conditions, which were accompanied with a fog and low wind speeds. Three air quality models (50-km EMEP model, 10-km EMEP4HR model and 1-km CAMx model) were used to simulate SO2 concentrations fields and to evaluate the relative contribution of distant and local pollution sources to observed concentrations. Results suggest that the episode was caused predominately by local sources. Furthermore, using three-dimensional, higher-order turbulence closure mesoscale meteorological model (WRF), the wind regimes and thermo-dynamical structure of the lower troposphere above the greater Rijeka area (GRA) were examined in detail. Modelled atmospheric fields suggest several factors whose simultaneous acting was responsible for elevated SO2 concentrations. Established small scale wind directions supported the transport of air from nearby industrial areas with major pollution sources towards Rijeka. This transport was associated with strong, ground-based temperature inversion and correspondingly, very low mixing layer (at most up to about 140 m). Additionally, the surface winds in Rijeka were light or almost calm thus, preventing ventilation of polluted air. Finally, a vertical circulation cell formed between the mainland and a nearby island, supported the air subsidence and the increase of static stability.