Aerosols are small particles which can cause harm to people by entering the respiratory system. They also play an important role in regulating climate by altering the temperature of the Earth and by causing the formation of clouds. A group of researchers from The Cyprus Institute took part in the international scientific experimental study of aerosols from natural sources (Characterization of Aerosol mixtures of Dust And Marine origin, CHARADMEX), which took place in Eastern Crete on 20th June - 10th July 2014. The purpose of the experiment was to study the physicochemical properties of aerosols over the Eastern Mediterraneanregion. The experiment was conducted at the environmental station of the University of Crete at Finokalia. It should be noted that due to its remote location from urban centers, the station is considered ideal for the detection of particulate pollution from natural sources (e.g. Saharan dust, sea-salt suspended particles and smoke particles from fires).
Also participating in the experiments were the University of Crete, the National Observatory of Athens, the German Institute for Tropospheric Research in Leipzig, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the French University of Lille, the Meteorological Observatory Davos, The Spanish High Performance Computer Center of Barcelona, the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences of the University of Georgia Tech in the USA, and the Meteorological Service of Britain.
The Cyprus Institute contributed to the experiment with its innovative unmanned aircrafts which were equipped with sophisticated scientific equipment, after obtaining a permit by the local Department of Civil Aviation and the airports of Heraklion and Sitia to perform scientific flights in Eastern Crete. It should be noted that this is the first time that such research has been conducted in South-eastern Europe using unmanned aircrafts. The innovation lies in the fact that the properties of suspended particles (with emphasis on dust from the Sahara) were studied at various heights in the troposphere, i.e. the lower part of the atmosphere.
The research is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Union through the program ACTRIS. The Cyprus Institute’s team consisted of Dr Mihalis Vrekoussis, Dr Christos Keleshis, Dr Stelios Ioannou, Mr Apostolos Apostolou, and the pilots Mr Marios Argyrides and Mr. Constantinos Savvides.
|One of the CyI unmanned aircraft during take-off from the airport of Sitia.||
3-D representation of the height of the observed particle concentrations over Eastern Crete. The red indicates the high concentrations of particulate matter and the white the low concentrations.