The total solar eclipse of March 2006: overview
1National Observatory of Athens, V. Pavlou and I. Metaxa, P. Penteli, 15236, Athens, Greece
2Laboratory of Atmospheric Physics, Physics Department, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
3Institute of Oceanography, Hellenic Center for Marine Research, Athens, Greece
4Laboratory of Agronomy, Faculty of Plant Production, Agricultural University of Athens, Athens Greece
5University of Crete, Chemistry Department, Environmental and Chemical Processes Laboratory, Crete, Greece
6Department of Meteorology and Climatology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece
Abstract. This paper provides the overview of an integrated, multi-disciplinary effort to study the effects of the 29 March 2006 total solar eclipse on the environment, with special focus on the atmosphere. The eclipse has been visible over the Eastern Mediterranean, and on this occasion several research and academic institutes organised co-ordinated experimental campaigns, at different distances from eclipse totality and at various environments in terms of air quality. Detailed results and findings are presented in a number of component scientific papers included in a Special Issue of Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. The effects of the eclipse on meteorological parameters, though very clear, were shown to be controlled by local factors rather than the eclipse magnitudes, and the turbulence activity near surface was suppressed causing a decrease in the Planetary Boundary Layer. In addition to the above, the decrease in solar radiation has caused change to the photochemistry of the atmosphere, with night time chemistry dominating. The abrupt "switch off" of the sun, induced changes also in the ionosphere (140 up to 220 km) and the stratosphere. In the ionosphere, both photochemistry and dynamics resulted to changes in the reflection heights and the electron concentrations. Among the most important scientific findings from the experiments undertaken has been the experimental proof of eclipse induced thermal fluctuations in the ozone layer (Gravity Waves), due to the supersonic movement of the moon's shadow, for the first time with simultaneous measurements at three altitudes namely the troposphere, the stratosphere and the ionosphere. Within the challenging topics of the experiments has been the investigation of eclipse impacts on ecosystems (field crops and marine plankton). The rare event of a total solar eclipse provided the opportunity to evaluate 1 dimensional (1-D) and three dimensional (3-D) radiative transfer (in the atmosphere and underwater), mesoscale meteorological, regional air quality and photochemical box models, against measurements.