04 Nov 2022
04 Nov 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Long-range transported pollution from the Middle East and its impact on carbonaceous aerosol sources over Cyprus

Aliki Christodoulou1,2, Iasonas Stavroulas1,3, Mihalis Vrekoussis1,4,5, Maximillien Desservettaz1, Michael Pikridas1, Elie Bimenyimana1, Matic Ivančič6, Martin Rigler6, Philippe Goloub7, Konstantina Oikonomou1, Roland Sarda-Estève8, Chrysanthos Savvides9, Charbel Afif1,10, Nikos Mihalopoulos1,3, Stéphane Sauvage2, and Jean Sciare1 Aliki Christodoulou et al.
  • 1Climate and Atmosphere Research Center (CARE-C), the Cyprus Institute, Nicosia, 2121, Cyprus
  • 2IMT Nord Europe, Institut Mines-Télécom, Univ. Lille, Centre for Energy and Environment, 59000 Lille, France
  • 3Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, Athens, Greece
  • 4University of Bremen, Institute of Environmental Physics and Remote Sensing (IUP), Germany
  • 5Center of Marine Environmental Sciences (MARUM), University of Bremen, Germany
  • 6Aerosol d.o.o., Research & Development Department, Kamniška 39a, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
  • 7University of Lille, CNRS, LOA – Laboratoire d’Optique Atmosphérique, Lille, 59000, France
  • 8Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement (LSCE), CNRS-CEA-UVSQ, Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 9Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance, Department of Labour Inspection (DLI), Nicosia, Cyprus
  • 10Emissions, Measurements, and Modeling of the Atmosphere (EMMA) Laboratory, CAR, Faculty of Sciences, Saint Joseph University, Beirut, Lebanon

Abstract. The geographical origin and source apportionment of submicron carbonaceous aerosols (organic aerosols, OA, and black carbon, BC) have been investigated here for the first time by means of high time resolution measurements at an urban background site of Nicosia, the capital city of Cyprus, in the Eastern Mediterranean. This study covers a half-year period, encompassing both the cold and warm periods with continuous observations of the physical and chemical properties of PM1 performed with an Aerosol Chemical Speciation monitor (ACSM), an Aethalometer, accompanied by a suite of various ancillary off and on-line measurements. Carbonaceous aerosols were dominant during both seasons (cold and warm periods), with a respective contribution of 57 % and 48 % to PM1, respectively, and exhibited recurrent intense night-time peaks (>20–30 µg m-3) during the cold period associated with local domestic heating. Findings of this study show that high concentrations of sulfate (close to 3 µg m-3) were continuously recorded, standing among the highest ever reported for Europe and originating from the Middle East region.

Source apportionment of the OA and BC fractions was performed using the Positive Matrix Factorization (PMF) approach and the combination of two models (aethalometer model and multilinear regression), respectively. Our study revealed elevated hydrocarbon-like organic aerosol (HOA) concentrations in Nicosia (among the highest reported for a European urban background site), originating from a mixture of local and regional fossil-fuel combustion sources. Although air masses from the Middle East had a low occurrence and were observed mostly during the cold period, they were shown to strongly affect the mean concentrations levels of BC and OA in Nicosia during both seasons. Overall, the present study brings to our attention the need to further characterize primary and secondary carbonaceous aerosols in the Middle East; an undersampled region characterized by continuously increasing fossil fuel (oil and gas) emissions and extreme environmental conditions, which can contribute to photochemical aging.

Aliki Christodoulou et al.

Status: open (until 28 Dec 2022)

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Aliki Christodoulou et al.

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Long-range transported pollution from the Middle East and its impact on carbonaceous aerosol sources over Cyprus Christodoulou et al.

Aliki Christodoulou et al.


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Short summary
Our study presents, for the first time, a detailed source identification of aerosols at an urban background site in Cyprus (Eastern Mediterranean); a region strongly impacted by climate change and air pollution. Here we identify unexpected high contribution of long-range transported pollution from fossil fuel sources in the Middle East, highlighting an urgent need to further characterize these fast-growing emissions and their impacts on regional atmospheric composition, climate, and health.