An Analysis of Fog in the Mainland Portuguese International Airports

Guerreiro PMP, Soares PMM, Cardoso RM, Ramos AM
Atmosphere. 11(11):1239. DOI: 10.3390/atmos11111239

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An analysis of 17 years of half-hourly aeronautic observations (METAR) and special observations (SPECI) in the three international airports of mainland Portugal indicates strong variations in fog properties. Fog is a rare event at Faro, a winter phenomenon in Lisbon and mainly a summer process at Porto. At both Lisbon and Porto, fog is favoured by specific synoptic circulations, here classified into a set of weather types, compatible with the strict requirements of fog formation. At the same time, however, a detailed analysis of the distribution of fog, and the classification of its onset processes, reveal a crucial dependence on local wind. This suggests that the advection of moist air from nearby sources, from the Tagus estuary at Lisbon and from the ocean at Porto, is the dominant process at both locations, despite the large differences found in the timing of those fog processes. The observational data (METAR) prior to the fog formation is used to classify the fog generation mechanism for 96.9% of the fog events at Porto, and 98.9% at Lisbon. Among the five fog types identified using a classification algorithm, cloud base lowering is the most common one at both locations, gathering half of the classified fog events, followed by advection, precipitation, and radiation. No fog event of the evaporation type was detected at both airports. The analysis of the observed horizontal visibility during the fog events revealed that cloud base lowering and radiation fog are the most intense events. The median of the minimum horizontal visibility of these two types of fog varies between 150 and 250 m, as the average ranges between 217.8 and 312.9 m. The study results have revealed a promising prefog diagnosis tool to be explored in detail in further operational context studies.