Transport of Saharan Dust Over Mediterranean Basin - Ecological and Health Risks
The Mediterranean area is recognized as one of the main climate change hotspots and one of the most susceptible world regions. This region is characterized by complex mixing of anthropogenic pollutants from industries and large urban areas with aerosols from various natural sources (dust from the Sahara, sea salt and forest fires). Saharan dust (SD) is one of the major component of atmospheric aerosols over the Mediterranean Basin and is an active component of the climate system. Generally, atmospheric particulate matter (PM) constitutes one of the most challenging problems both for air quality and for climate change policies. Aerosols influence heat balance of the Earth, directly by reflecting and absorbing solar radiation and indirectly through altering the cloud microphysics. On the other hand, they influence human health by inducing adverse respiratory effects. In the Mediterranean countries, SD outbreaks contribute to high concentrations of PM10 fraction (particles with aerodynamic diameter > 10 µm) that often exceed the limit set by the EU Air Quality Directive. This PM can be a serious irritant and pose a major health hazard. Additionally, the extreme dust transport events may modify the radiative budget of Mediterranean basin and the basin biogeochemical cycle as well.
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