Articles | Volume 9, issue 14
17 Jul 2009
 | 17 Jul 2009

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

P. Cristofanelli, A. Marinoni, J. Arduini, U. Bonafè, F. Calzolari, T. Colombo, S. Decesari, R. Duchi, M. C. Facchini, F. Fierli, E. Finessi, M. Maione, M. Chiari, G. Calzolai, P. Messina, E. Orlandi, F. Roccato, and P. Bonasoni

Abstract. High levels of trace gas (O3 and CO) and aerosol (BC, fine and coarse particle volumes), as well as high scattering coefficient (σp) values, were recorded at the regional GAW-WMO station of Mt. Cimone (CMN, 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 enhancement 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 volume: 3.00 μm3 cm−3, σp: 84.5 Mm−1) were even higher than during the pollution event (CO: 138 ppbv, BC: 733 ng/m3, fine particles volume: 1.58 μm3 cm−3, σp: 44.9 Mm). Moreover, despite the presence of mineral dust able to affect significantly 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 CMN. In particular, the calculated O3/CO ERs (0.10–0.17 ppbv/ppbv) were in the range of values found in literature for relatively aged (2–4 days) BB plumes and suggested significant photochemical O3 production during the air-mass transport. For fine particles and σp, the calculated ERs was higher in the BB plumes than during the anthropogenic pollution events, stressing the importance of the identified BB event as a source of atmospheric aerosol able to affect the atmospheric radiation budget. These results suggest that episodes of mineral dust mobilization and wildfire emissions over North Africa could significantly influence radiative properties (as deduced from σp observations at CMN) and air quality over the Mediterranean basin and northern Italy.

Final-revised paper