A collection of scientific papers resulting from the MECAPIP, RECAPMA and SECAP Projects.

© of the present edition: CEAM; Fundación Centro de Estudios Ambientales del Mediterráneo
© of the texts: The authors

ISBN: 84-921259-1-8
Depósito legal: V-3667-2002
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Southern Europe is unique. It is located in the subtropical latitudes, it has a very complex orography, and it incorporates the world's largest inland sea, the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean basin is surrounded by high mountains along its entire European and Asian perimeter, and the western basin is further confined by the Atlas mountains in northern Africa. As a result, well-recognized climatic differences exist between Southern and Central/Northern Europe. Less recognized, but just as important, are the links that these Southern Europe climatic conditions have with the orography and the atmospheric environmental problems in the region.

In summer, atmospheric circulations across the Mediterranean are dominated by the Azores High at the west and the Asian Monsoon system at the east, and pressure differences of up to » 30 to 40 hPa can develop between the Atlantic coast of Portugal and the Arabian peninsula. Supported by the prevailing orography, extensive and deep convective cells develop during the day, which lead to deep "orographically-aided convection". Thus, subordinate to the major weather structures, other large mesoscale circulations develop with marked diurnal cycles, i.e. the Iberian, Italian and Anatolian Thermal Lows. These, together with their compensatory subsidences over the seas, strongly influence the vertical evolution of the regional flows during the day.

Our awareness of the peculiarities of the meteorological processes in this region began in 1979 after tracking the dispersion from a tall stack plume (340 m in Andorra, Teruel, Spain) followed, within a week, by the Fourth European Campaign for the Remote Sensing of Air Pollution near the Turbigo power plant (Po Valley, Italy). In both cases, nearly 180º diurnal oscillations in the plume directions were observed under the effect of the breeze in the Po valley and under the effects of the Iberian Thermal Low in Spain. Further evidences of the effects of "local" circulations and their vertical extent were obtained during the Sixth European Remote Sensing Campaign in Foss Berre (Marseilles, France, 1983). Air pollution layers associated with the return flows of the seabreeze were identified at » 2000 (+) m asl by LIDAR and by the DLR Falcon Aircraft. This information was used to elaborate the working hypotheses for the MECAPIP project in 1986.

This document presents the results of the projects that followed and the evidence obtained to date. The most significant characteristics of the atmospheric circulations in the Western Mediterranean Basin are: (1) the deep and narrow vertical exchanges over some of the mountain ranges, which produce stratified layers of pollutants over the sea at varying heights and degrees of aging, (2) the slow and persistent subsidence of these layers over the sea, and (3) the self-organization of the local flows at the regional level. The end results are vertical recirculations and the long residence time of air pollutants, which favours chemical reactions.

Scientific acceptance of the atmospheric processes in this region, however, has been slow in maturing as it has had to overcome the accepted level of knowhow dominated by mid latitude meteorology. This situation is further complicated by the inability of current mesoscale meteorological models to fully simulate some of the observed processes, e.g. layering. The experimental fact is that in summer deep vertical exchange processes occur every day and for several consecutive months in Southern Europe, and we hope that the present collection of papers will help to clarify this situation.

The results reported herein have been used in various applied meteorology applications, e.g., analyses of torrential rains and forest-fire winds, and some of the resulting publications have also been included in the present anthology.

In preparing this collection, original reprints of the papers were scanned and subsequently revised to correct for artifacts introduced during the text-scanning process, e.g., extra dots, changed symbols. Some of these, may have slipped through, and the reader should be aware of this.

Finally, we would like to gratefully acknowledge the support of BANCAJA in making this publication possible.

Millán M. Millán, Ph.D.

Fundación CEAM



The effect of meso-scale flows on regional and long-range atmospheric transport in the íwestern mediterranean area


Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 25A, Nº 5/6, pp. 949-963, 1991.  
Comparative study of seasonal air pollutant behaviour in a Mediterranean coastal site: Castellon (Spain)


Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 25A, Nº 8, pp. 1523-1535, 1991.  
Meteorology and photochemical air pollution in southern Europe: Experimental results from ec research projects


Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 30, Nº 12, pp. 1909-1924, 1996.  
Photooxidant dynamics in the Mediterranean basin in summer: Results from European research projects


Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 102, pp. 8811-8823, 1997.  
Mesoscale modelling of atmospheric processes over the western Mediterranean area during summer


International Journal of Environment and Pollution, Vol. 8, Nº 3-6, pp. 513-529. 1997.  
On the long-range transport of air pollutants from Europe to Africa


Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 25, Nº 5, pp. 619-622, 1998.  
The dynamics of aged airmasses and ozone in the western Mediterranean: Relevance to forest ecosystems


Chemosphere, Vol. 36, Nº 4-5, pp. 1089-1094, 1998.  
Horizontal grid size selection and its influence on mesoscale model simulations


Journal of Applied Meteorology, Vol. 38, Nº 9, pp. 1311-1329, 1999.  
Transport of tropospheric ozone over the bay of biscay and the eastern cantabrian coast of spain


Journal of Applied Meteorology, Vol. 39, Nº 4, pp. 475-486, 2000.  
Ozone cycles in the western Mediterranean basin: Interpretation of monitoring data in complex coastal terrain


Journal of Applied Meteorology, Vol. 39, Nº 4, pp. 487-508, 2000.  
Long-range transport and re-circulation of pollutants in the western Mediterranean During the project regional cycles of air pollution in the west-central Mediterranean area


Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 35, pp. 6267-6276, 2001.  
Regional transport of pollutants over the bay of biscay: Analysis of an ozone episode under a blocking anticyclone in west-central Europe


Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 36, pp. 1349-1361, 2002.  
Atmpospheric dynamics and ozone cycles related to nitrogen deposition in the western Mediterranean


Environmental Pollution, Vol. 118, pp. 167-186, 2002.  
Atmospheric nitrogen deposition on the east coast of Spain: Relevance of dry deposition in semi-arid Mediterranean regions


Environmental Pollution, Vol. 118, pp. 259-272, 2002.  


Double-camera measurements of plumes, applied to wind field characterization and dispersion studies


Boundary-Layer Meteorology, Vol. 79, pp. 1-21, 1996.  
Rise of moist plumes from tall stacks in turbulent and stratified atmospheres Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 31, Nº 2, pp. 253-269, 1997.


Meteorological processes relevant to forest fire dynamics on the spanish Mediterranean coast


Journal of Applied Meteorology, Vol. 37, Nº 1, pp. 83-100, 1998.  
Torrential rains on the spanish Mediterranean coast: Modelling the effects of the sea surface temperature  
Journal of Applied Meteorology, Vol. 40, Nº 7, pp. 1180-1195, 2001.




A fumigation episode in an industrialized estuary: Bilbao, November 1981


Atmospheric Environment, Vol. 18, Nº 3, pp. 563-572, 1984.  
Experimental characterization of atmospheric diffusion in complex terrain with land-sea interactions  
Journal of Air Pollution Control Association, Vol. 37, Nº 7, pp. 807-811, 1987.







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