NASA satellites capture thick smog caused by Deonar fire

  • Snehal Rebello , Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jan 30, 2016 21:35 IST
The fire at Deonar was brought under control on Saturday but the smoke from the city’s largest garbage dumping ground continued to blanket a sizeable part of the eastern suburbs and central Mumbai. (Arijit Sen/HT photo)

In a first, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellites have captured the blanket of thick toxic smoke haze that emanated from the Deonar dumping ground and spread to neighbouring areas as far as Dadar, resulting in poor air quality levels in the city.

Read more: Maharashtra CM orders probe into Deonar fire

The images show smoke plumes transported across Mumbai, and moving over the Arabian Sea and coastal areas of the city between January 28 and January 29 after a fire broke out at the landfill. 

NASA satellite has captured images of the smoke emanating from the Deonar dumping ground between January 27 and 29 which resulted in poor air quality levels. Photos show the large plume of smoke moving towards the Arabian Sea. The collation of the satellite images had been done by Ritesh Gautam, professor at IIT Bombay. ((Image credit: Dr. Ritesh Gautam, IIT Bombay; Satellite data source: NASA NPP VIIRS and Landsat 8 OLI))

The satellite images show almost no indication of smoke plumes over the city on January 27. 

“In the afternoon, as ground temperature rises, atmospheric convection increases resulting in dispersion of smoke plumes. Owing to prevailing winds, a thick smoke plume was observed to be more extensive and was transported to greater distances, resulting in hazy conditions across Mumbai,” said professor Ritesh Gautam, Centre for Studies in Resource Engineering (CSRE), Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay,  who studied and collated the satellite observations.

While images were captured by NPP, NASA’s earth-observing satellite, around 1:30pm  on January 27, 28 and 29, NASA’s Landsat 8 satellite covered Mumbai at 11am on January 28.  

“Burning garbage in dumping grounds should be strongly discouraged by the government. It is one of the major factors for the city’s poor air quality,” Gautam said.

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