Haze veil on the Pakistani coast

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The lower part of the Indus River (severely flooded during the last monsoon season) and the adjacent Rann of Kutch (seasonal salt marsh) have dried out after the monsoon, forming potential source of dust.

Date & Time
24 December 2010 00:00 UTC
Meteosat-9, Meteosat-8, Metop-A, Terra/Aqua
NIR1.6, VIS0.8, VIS0.6, Ocean Surface Wind

On 23–24 December 2010 easterly surface winds picked up dust from this area, spreading a faint veil along the Pakistani coast, towards the Sea of Oman.

Download animation (MPG, 298 KB)
Download full resolution image

More information and detailed analysis of the feature can be found in the In Depth section.


In Depth

by HansPeter Roesli (EUMETSAT)

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On 23–25 December 2010 an episode of easterly surface winds picked up dust resulting in haze over the lower Indus valley and the adjacent salt marshes called Rann of Kutch (see Metop-A AVHRR image, 24 December 2010, PNG, 718 KB) and spread it over the Arabian Sea along the Pakistan coast towards the Sea of Oman (see Meteosat-9 Natural Colours RGB image and animation below). By mid-morning on 24 December the haze veil was moving westwards at a speed of 7-8 m/s, derived from a couple of Meteosat-9 images. This value compares well with the 10–20 knots computed from the wind field deduced from the ASCAT instrument on-board Metop (PNG, 110 KB). The relative ASCAT wind field (black flow arrows in the same image) shows a sizeable wind convergence along the leading edge of the haze layer, giving rise to shallow convection and indicated by a string of small cumulus clouds well depicted by MODIS on Aqua (PNG, 6 MB, source: NASA).

One might now wonder about the constituents of the haze being driven across the sea. Remembering that extreme monsoon rains had inundated the lower Indus valley and the adjacent salt marshes called Rann of Kutch earlier in 2010 and that by December 2010 most water had evaporated, leaving behind areas with dried mud and salt, mineral dust would be considered as a likely candidate. However, this is not the case — the dust hardly shows up in the Dust RGB from Meteosat-9 (PNG, 542 KB). Also, a sequence of Dust RGBs from Meteosat-8 (MPG, 8 MB) taken during the night of 23–24 December does not reveal major dust outbreaks over the adjacent continental area. On the other hand, the haze is easily detected in the solar channels (albeit in daylight only), in particular, in the morning when the sun-satellite orientation gives rise to moderate forward scattering. From the mid-morning orbit of Metop (flying overhead the area, and thus less favourable to forward-scattering) the haze is more transparent. A mosaic of four images (PNG, 2 MB) compares the Natural Colour RGB from both satellites shortly after 05:00 UTC (about 10:00 local time), both on 24 and 25 December.

Looking more closely at the three SEVIRI solar channels (PNG, 822 KB), it is interesting to note the somewhat irregular behaviour of the reflectivity. VIS0.8 gives the strongest reflectivity values over the haze veil whilst VIS0.6 and (even more so) NIR1.6 reflect less in the early morning of 24 December. This higher value of VIS0.8 may point to a Mie-scattering regime, i.e scattering from particles with sizes similar to the wave lengths of the observing channels. However, particle sizes in the order of one micron are typical for suspended particles of mineral origin. Compare this to the smoke plumes from the forest fire near Haifa where the reflection strongly decreases with increasing wave length, suggesting a Rayleigh-scattering regime and due to much smaller smoke particles.

Thus, it appears that the haze consisted of many ingredients, but mostly non-mineral particles, yet of relatively large size when compared to smoke from hot wild fires. This analysis compares well with the conclusions of a paper on carbonaceous aerosols over the Indian Ocean (Novakov et al., 2000, PDF, 821 KB): "... that both biomass and fossil fuel combustion contribute to the carbonaceous particles, including light absorbing black carbon. However, the contribution of fossil fuel burning (from transportation, industrial and domestic sectors) is considerably larger and can be as much as 80% of the total." The same source in Table 2 gives a size less than 1.3 micron for the particles. Note however, that the measurments reported in the paper refer to flights around the southern tip of India.


Meteosat-9 Natural Colours RGB

Met-9, 24 December 2010, 05:00 UTC
RGB Composite NIR1.6, VIS0.8, VIS0.6
Full Resolution (PNG, 267 KB)
Comparison to Dust RGB (PNG, 542 KB)
Animation (02:30–12:45 UTC, MPG, 299 KB)

See also:

Large forest fire near Haifa, Israel (3 December 2010)
Large smoke plumes from fires over Bolivia (19–29 August 2010)
Large smoke plume over the Mozambique Channel (1 September 2008)
Extended period of dense smoke over Argentina and Uruguay (18 April 2008)

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