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From Tropospheric Folding to Khamsin and Foehn Winds: How Atmospheric Dynamics Advanced a Record-Breaking Dust Episode in Crete

IAASARS, National Observatory of Athens, 15236 Athens, Greece
Chemistry Department, University of Crete, Crete, 71003 Heraklion, Greece
IERSD, National Observatory of Athens, 15236 Athens, Greece
Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos, World Radiation Center, Dorfstrasse 33, CH-7260 Davos Dorf, Switzerland
Met Office, FitzRoy Road, Exeter EX1 3PB, UK
Laboratory of Climatology and Atmospheric Environment, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 15784 Athens, Greece
National Institute of R&D for Optoelectronics, 409 Atomiştilor Str., Magurele RO-77125, România
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2018, 9(7), 240;
Received: 21 May 2018 / Revised: 18 June 2018 / Accepted: 20 June 2018 / Published: 24 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineral Dust: Sources, Atmospheric Processing and Impacts)
PDF [8214 KB, uploaded 25 June 2018]


A record-breaking dust episode took place in Crete on 22 March 2018. The event was characterized by surface concentrations exceeding 1 mg m−3 for a period of 4–7 h, reaching record values higher than 6 mg m−3 at the background station of Finokalia. We present here a detailed analysis of the atmospheric dynamical processes during this period, to identify the main reasons for such extreme dust advection over Crete. At the synoptic scale, the weakening of the polar vortex and the meridional transport of polar air masses at upper tropospheric layers resulted in a strong jet streak over north Africa and Central Mediterranean and corresponding tropospheric folding that brought cold stratospheric air in mid and upper troposphere. Cyclogenesis occurred at the Gulf of Sirte in Libya, resulting in strong winds over the north-east parts of Libya, enhancing particle emissions. The dust plume traveled at low altitude (0.5–3 km) along the warm conveyor belt preceding the depression cold front. This type of dusty southerly wind is commonly known as “Khamsin”. As the flow approached Crete, Foehn winds at the lee side of the island favored the downward mixing of dust towards the surface, resulting in local maxima of PM10 in Heraklion and Finokalia. The analysis is based on the combination of high-resolution WRF-Chem simulations reaching up to 1 × 1 km grid space over Crete, ground-based and satellite remote sensing of the dust plumes (PollyXT LiDAR, MSG-SEVIRI, MODIS) and detailed surface aerosol in situ measurements at urban (Heraklion, Chania, Greece) and background (Finokalia) stations in Crete. View Full-Text
Keywords: dust; Khamsin; Foehn; tropospheric folding; cyclogenesis; Finokalia dust; Khamsin; Foehn; tropospheric folding; cyclogenesis; Finokalia

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Solomos, S.; Kalivitis, N.; Mihalopoulos, N.; Amiridis, V.; Kouvarakis, G.; Gkikas, A.; Binietoglou, I.; Tsekeri, A.; Kazadzis, S.; Kottas, M.; Pradhan, Y.; Proestakis, E.; Nastos, P.T.; Marenco, F. From Tropospheric Folding to Khamsin and Foehn Winds: How Atmospheric Dynamics Advanced a Record-Breaking Dust Episode in Crete. Atmosphere 2018, 9, 240.

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