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