Alexandra Monteiro, University of Aveiro
Sara Basart, Barcelona Supercomputing Center
Stelios Kazadzis, Physikalisch-Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos
Antonis Gkikas, National Observatory of Athens
Sophie Vandenbussche, Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy
Aurelio Tobias, Spanish Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)
Carla Gama, University of Aveiro
Carlos Pérez García-Pando, Barcelona Supercomputing Center
Enric Tarradellas, Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies
George Notas, State Meteorological Agency of Spain
Nick Middleton, University of Crete
Jonilda Kushta, The Cyprus Institute
Vassilis Amiridis, National Observatory of Athens
Kostas Lagouvardos, National Observatory of Athens
Panagiotis G. Kosmopoulos, National Observatory of Athens
Vasiliki Kotroni, National Observatory of Athens
Maria Kanakidou, University of Crete
Nikos Mihalopoulos, National Observatory of Athens
Nikos Kalivitis, National Observatory of Athens
Pavla Daggson-Waldhauserová, Agricultural University of Iceland
Hesham el-Askary, Chapman UniversityFollow
Klaus Sievers, ZAMG - Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik
T. Giannaros, National Observatory of Athens
Lucia Mona, Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale (CNR-IMAA)
Marcus Hirtl, ZAMG - Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik
Paul Skomorowski, ZAMG - Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik
Slobodan Nickovic, National Hydrometeorological Service, Serbia
Athanasios Votsis, University of Twente
Timo H. Virtanen, Finnish Meteorological Institute
Theodoros Christoudias, The Cyprus Institute
Biagio Di Mauro, National Research Council of Italy
Serena Trippetta, Istituto di Metodologie per l'Analisi Ambientale (CNR-IMAA)
Stanislav Kutuzov, Russian Academy of Sciences
Outi Meinander, Finnish Meteorological Institute

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In late March 2018, a large part of the Eastern Mediterranean experienced an extraordinary episode of African dust, one of the most intense in recent years, here referred to as the “Minoan Red” event. The episode mainly affected the Greek island of Crete, where the highest aerosol concentrations over the past 15 yeas were recorded, although impacts were also felt well beyond this core area. Our study fills a gap in dust research by assessing the multi-sectoral impacts of sand and dust storms and their socioeconomic implications. Specifically, we provide a multi-sectoral impact assessment of Crete during the occurrence of this exceptional African dust event. During the day of the occurrence of the maximum dust concentration in Crete, i.e. March 22nd, 2018, we identified impacts on meteorological conditions, agriculture, transport, energy, society (including closing of schools and cancellation of social events), and emergency response systems. As a result, the event led to a 3-fold increase in daily emergency responses compare to previous days associated with urban emergencies and wildfires, a 3.5-fold increase in hospital visits and admissions for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations and dyspnoea, a reduction of visibility causing aircraft traffic disruptions (eleven cancellations and seven delays), and a reduction of solar energy production. We estimate the cost of direct and indirect effects of the dust episode, considering the most affected socio-economic sectors (e.g. civil protection, aviation, health and solar energy production), to be between 3.4 and 3.8 million EUR for Crete. Since such desert dust transport episodes are natural, meteorology-driven and thus to a large extent unavoidable, we argue that the efficiency of actions to mitigate dust impacts depends on the accuracy of operational dust forecasting and the implementation of relevant early warning systems for social awareness.


This article was originally published in Science of The Total Environment, volume 843, in 2022.

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