Lidar observations of the tropospheric aerosols were carried out at the island of Lampedusa (35.5 degreesN, 12.6 degreesE) in the Mediterranean during May-June 1999, within the Photochemical Activity and Ultraviolet Radiation II experiment. The measurements indicate that the troposphere is often loaded with large amounts of aerosol particles, producing relatively large values of the depolarization ratio. The aerosol content below and above 2 km shows a somewhat different behavior. In the upper region, large aerosol concentrations last for a few days; during these events aerosol is often detected up to 7 or 8 km. Large amounts were detected in mid-May and were very often observed in June. By using meteorological analyses and isentropic backward trajectories, the aerosol behavior above Lampedusa has been related to the large-scale transport patterns and to the source regions. Large aerosol loads are clearly due to dust transport from Africa, occurring through two main paths: from central Sahara, when a high-pressure system was centered over northern Libya, and following the northwestern African coast, often along the Atlas Mountains, when the anticyclone is over Algeria or Libya, at latitudes lower than 30 degreesN. Large aerosol loads are observed even when the air mass trajectories marginally overpass Africa, often up to 5-6 km. According to the isentropic trajectories, large vertical motions occur when the air masses travel over Africa. Significant differences in the aerosol profiles are found, depending on the origin of the air masses, and on the strength of the vertical motion. All the air masses that have traveled over Africa show an enhanced aerosol concentration, indicating that in this period the conditions were always favorable to dust mobilization and vertical propagation. The identified transport patterns appear to mainly affect the southers Mediterranean; in rare cases, forward trajectories reached southern Italy, Greece, Turkey, and the eastern Mediterranean.
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