- Typical mid-winter anthropogenic air pollution episodes are caused when pollutants are trapped in the lower atmospheric boundary layer due to the generation of surface inversion favored by synoptic conditions. We analyzed the optical properties of atmospheric aerosol particles obtained during one such episode using a sun/sky radiometer at two measurement sites: one located in the densely populated and industrialized central part of Israel, and the other in a reference site, about 150 km away. Aerosol optical thickness and volume size distributions showed an increased burden of fine aerosol particles in the central part of Israel. In order to verify the local origin and anthropogenic nature of the effect, the analysis was accompanied by examinations of the synoptic conditions, air mass backward trajectories, and conventional in situ air pollution measurements made by a ground-based sampling station. This case study shows the ability of optical measurements to track urban and industrial atmospheric air pollution expressed by high concentration of fine aerosol particles. In addition, it emphasizes the role of local Israeli air pollution sources and may explain the difference in the properties of long-term aerosol optical observations between the two sites. The advantages of the optical method presented are speed (almost instantaneous), automated measurement, and sensitivity to aerosol particle concentration as well as aerosol size fraction. The drawback is that the optical measurements discussed deal only with aerosol particles and cannot distinguish between different types of pollutant gases.