The performance of electro-optical systems can be substantially affected by aerosol particles that scatter and absorb electromagnetic radiation. The model that is most frequently used for the prediction of aerosols and their effect on extinction in the marine atmosphere is the US Navy Aerosol Model (NAM). However, NAM can be significantly less reliable in coastal areas than on the open ocean. Based on an extensive series of measurements conducted on the island of Inisheer (Irish West Coast), an empirical aerosol model for the coastal zone formulated as an extension of NAM, in which coastal effects are modeled as a function of fetch, has been developed. This work is extended to the Mediterranean using an aerosol dataset recorded on the island of Porquerolles in the Bay of Toulon (France) and has been coupled with the Mie theory to give a code for the extinction, the code MEDiterranean EXtinction (MEDEX). © 2003 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.