Outflow of Indian winter smog over North Indian Ocean

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On 6 January 2019 Indian winter smog spread over the North Indian Ocean.

Date & Time
05 and 06 January 2019 03:00–13:00 UTC
Meteosat-8, Sentinel-3
Natural Colour RGB, True Colour RGB

By HansPeter Roesli (Switzerland)

There was a similar case on 24 December 2010, but this time the outflow occurred over a much longer stretch of the West Indian coastline.

The smog is difficult to detect in infrared imagery, due to very low thermal contrast between the smog and the underlying ocean. However, the much enhanced Natural Colour RGBs from Meteosat-8 allowd for identification of the smog, as shown on the animation between 03:00UTC and 13:00 UTC (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Meteosat-8 enhanced Natural Colour RGB animation, 6 January 03:00–13:00 UTC. Download animation (MP4, 4 MB)

The comparison between a True Colour RGB from OLCI on Sentinel-3 and a Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGB around 06:47 UTC (Figure 2) shows a relatively complex structure along the smog front. e.g. the two whirls, the more southern one leading the main front, that temporarily formed off the Pakistani coast (red arrows on Sentinel image).

Figure 2
Figure 2: Comparison of Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour RGB (left) and Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGB (right), 6 January 06:47 UTC

Even closer to the Pakistani coast the cloud/haze features can be seen moving backwards (in the opposite direction of the front’s displacement, red arrow in Figure 3). This counter motion, occurring above the smog top, can be better seen on the second part of the animation in Figure 1.

Figure 3
Figure 3: Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGB, 6 January 09:45 UTC

The smog outbreak from the east was preceded the day before by a dust outbreak from the north.

Figure 4: Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGB animation, 5 January 03:00–13:00 UTC. Download animation (MP4, 4 MB)

The sequence of Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGBs, from 03:00–13:00 UTC (Figure 4), shows that Sistan winds drove dust veils into the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Sea off the Iranian-Pakistani coasts.

Winds at the 975 hPa-level from the GFS analyses at 06:00 UTC on both days (Figure 5) confirmed the rapid change in the low-level wind field over the area.

Figure 5
Figure 5: Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGB with GFS winds at 975 hPa, 5 (left) & 6 (right) January, 06:00 UTC
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