Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-429
https://doi.org/10.5194/acp-2021-429

  07 Sep 2021

07 Sep 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ACP.

Development and evolution of an anomalous Asian dust event across Europe in March 2020

Laura Tositti1, Erika Brattich2, Claudio Cassardo3, Pietro Morozzi1, Alessandro Bracci2, Angela Marinoni4, Silvana Di Sabatino2, Federico Porcù2, and Alessandro Zappi1 Laura Tositti et al.
  • 1Department of Chemistry “G. Ciamician”, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna, Via F. Selmi, 2, 40126 Bologna (Italy)
  • 2Department of Physics and Astronomy “Augusto Righi”, Alma Mater Studiorum University of Bologna Viale Berti Pichat 6/2, 40127 Bologna (Italy)
  • 3Department of Physics, via P. Giuria 1, 10125 Torino (Italy)
  • 4National Research Counsil of Italy, Institute of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (CNR-ISAC), Via P. Gobetti, 101, 40129 Bologna (Italy)

Abstract. This paper concerns an in-depth analysis of an exceptional incursion of mineral dust over Southern Europe in late March 2020. This event was associated with an anomalous circulation pattern leading to several days of PM10 exceedances in connection with a dust source located in Central Asia a rare source of dust for Europe, more frequently affected by dust outbreaks from the Sahara desert. The synoptic meteorological configuration was analyzed in detail, while aerosol evolution during the transit of the dust cloud over Northern Italy was assessed at high time resolution by means of optical particle counting at three stations, namely Bologna, Trieste, and Mt. Cimone allowing to reveal transport timing among the three locations. Back-trajectory analyses supported by AOD (Aerosol Optical Depth) maps allowed to locate the mineral dust source area in the Aralkum region. The event was therefore analyzed through the observation of particle number size distribution with the support of chemical composition analysis. It is shown that PM10 exceedance recorded is associated with a large fraction of coarse particles in agreement with mineral dust properties. Both in-situ number size distribution and vertical distribution of the dust plume were cross-checked by Lidar Ceilometer and AOD data from two nearby stations, showing that the dust plume, differently from those originated in the Sahara desert, traveled close to the ground up to a height of about 2 km. The limited mixing layer height caused by high concentrations of absorbing and scattering aerosols caused the mixing of mineral dust with other locally-produced ambient aerosols, thereby potentially increasing its morbidity effects.

Laura Tositti et al.

Status: open (until 19 Oct 2021)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on acp-2021-429', Anonymous Referee #4, 13 Sep 2021 reply

Laura Tositti et al.

Laura Tositti et al.

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Short summary
We present a thorough investigation of an anomalous transport of mineral dust over a region renowned for excess airborne particulate matter, the Italian Po valley, which occurred in late March 2021. The anomaly stands in both the origin of this dust outbreak which was localized in central Asia, i.e. the so-called Aralkum desert, and on the upstream synoptic conditions herein investigated in extreme detail using multiple integrated observations including in-situ measurements and remote sensing.
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